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acrylic fiber[ə′kril·ik ′fī·bər]
a synthetic fiber produced from solutions of polyacrylonitrile or copolymers containing more than 85 percent by weight of acrylonitrile units.
The production of acrylic fibers involves production of a polymer, which forms a fiber by means of wet or dry spinning. This is followed by regeneration of the solvent, most often dimethylformamide or dimethylacetamide.
Acrylic fibers have many mechanical properties in common with wool and, in this regard, are superior to all other chemical fibers. They are resistant to strong (even heated) acids of moderate concentrations and to alkalies of moderate concentration. Solvents used for dry cleaning clothes, such as benzine, acetone, carbon tetrachloride, and dichloroethane, do not affect the strength of the fiber. However, phenol, w-cresol, and formaldehyde solution destroy the fiber.
About 99 percent of acrylic fibers are produced in staple form and are used in the manufacture of knitted fabrics, rugs, dresses, and suits. In addition, acrylic fibers are used to make underwear (in a mixture with cotton and viscose fiber), curtains, tarpaulins, upholstery, and filters.
Acrylic fibers are produced in many countries under the following trade names: Nitron (USSR), Orion and Acrylan (USA), Cashmilon (Japan), Courtelle (Great Britain), Dralon (Federal Republic of Germany), and Wolpryla (German Democratic Republic). The world production of acrylic fibers in 1973 was about 1.4 million tons.