chemical fibers made from synthetic polymers. Synthetic fibers are formed either from a polymer melt (polyamide, polyester, polyolefin) or from a solution of polymers (polyacrylonitrile, polyvinyl chloride, or polyvinyl alcohol) using dry or wet methods. (For details on methods of producing synthetic fibers, see.)
Synthetic fibers are manufactured in the form of textile thread, cord, monofilaments, and staple fibers. The diverse properties of the raw synthetic polymers make it possible to obtain synthetic fibers with various properties, although the possibilities for variation of the properties of artificial fibers are very limited, since they are all formed virtually from the same polymer (cellulose or its products). Synthetic fibers are characterized by their high durability, water and wear resistance, elasticity, and resistance to the activity of chemical reagents.
The production of synthetic fibers is developing faster than the production of artificial fibers. This is explained by the availability of raw material, by the fast development of the raw-material base, by the lower labor consumption of the manufacturing processes, and especially by the variety of properties and high quality of synthetic fibers. In connection with this synthetic fibers are gradually taking the place of artificial as well as natural fibers in the production of some consumer goods and industrial products.
In 1968 the world production of synthetic fibers was 3,760,300 tons (about 51.6 percent of the total output of chemical fibers). In industry synthetic fibers were produced for the first time in the mid-1930’s in the USA and Germany.