Acrylic fiber is a synthetic polymer made from acrylonitrile, a petrochemical monomer. It is one of the most versatile and widely used fibers in the textile industry due to its excellent properties such as softness, durability, and resistance to sunlight and chemicals. Acrylic fibers are available in various forms such as staple, tow, and filament, and can be blended with other fibers to improve their properties.
Acrylic fiber was first developed in the 1940s by DuPont and other chemical companies. It was initially used as a substitute for wool, as it had a similar appearance and texture. However, acrylic fibers have since been developed into a range of specialty fibers with unique properties and applications.
One of the main advantages of acrylic fiber is its softness and lightweight, which makes it a popular choice for apparel and other textile products. It also has excellent thermal properties, retaining heat in cold temperatures and releasing heat in warm temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor clothing and accessories. Additionally, acrylic fiber is highly resistant to sunlight and chemicals, making it an ideal choice for outdoor fabrics and carpets.
Acrylic fiber is also known for its ability to imitate the appearance of other fibers, such as wool and cotton, while offering improved durability and easier care. Acrylic blends are commonly used in garments and textiles that require wrinkle resistance, ease of care, and colorfastness.
In terms of manufacturing, acrylic fiber is produced through a process called wet spinning. This involves dissolving acrylonitrile in a solvent, adding a catalyst, and then spinning the resulting polymer solution into fibers. The fibers are then washed and dried before being cut into staple lengths, or left as filaments for use in fabrics.
Acrylic fiber is widely used in a range of textile applications, including apparel, home furnishings, industrial textiles, and outdoor products. Some of the top manufacturers of acrylic fiber include BASF, Dow Chemical, Mitsubishi Chemical, and Formosa Plastics.
In apparel, acrylic fibers are commonly used in sweaters, socks, and hats, as well as in blends with other fibers for jackets, pants, and other outdoor clothing. Acrylic fibers are also commonly used in blankets, carpets, and upholstery due to their durability and resistance to sunlight and chemicals.
Industrial textiles, such as filter fabrics and insulation materials, also use acrylic fibers due to their resistance to heat and chemicals. Acrylic fibers are also used in rope and cordage, as they are strong and durable.
In recent years, there has been growing interest in eco-friendly alternatives to acrylic fibers due to their reliance on petrochemicals. However, advances in technology have enabled the development of sustainable acrylic fibers made from bio-based materials, such as corn or sugar.
Overall, acrylic fiber is a versatile and widely used fiber in the textile industry, offering excellent properties such as softness, durability, and resistance to sunlight and chemicals. While there is growing interest in eco-friendly alternatives, acrylic fiber remains an important and popular choice for a range of textile applications.
A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of acrylonitrile units [-CH2-CH(CN)-] (FTC definition). Acrylic fabrics have low moisture absorbency and dry relatively quickly. In general, acrylic fibers are resistant to the degrading effects of ultraviolet rays in sunlight and to a wide range of chemicals and fumes. They provide warmth in fabrics which are lightweight, soft, and resilient.