Discover the environmental impact of SYNTHETIC FIBERS

11 August 2018

@ INTERFILIERE SHANGHAI – September 26 & 27, 2018 

There are two large families of textile fibers: natural textile fibers and chemical textile fibers.

Let’s explore the technical properties of SYNTHETIC FIBERS (from petroleum or recycled plastics) and discover the environmental impact at the Innovation Forum from Interfiliere Shanghai.



Polyamide is a synthetic fiber obtained by drawing substances (polymers), resulting from the reaction of an acid with another petroleum-derived product (adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine).
Nylon corresponds to polyamide 6.6, it is more resistant than classic polyamide. There are also other polyamide typologies, such as polyamide 11.


  • Easy care and crease resistance.
  • High tensile strength and low wear and tear.
  • Good resistance to chemical products.
  • High shock absorption.
  • Good sliding properties.
  • Deep colors.


  • Feels cold to the touch.
  • Fiber is very sensitive to UV.
  • Fiber is sensitive to moisture.
  • Static.



Polyester is the result of condensing (esterifying) two petroleum components: an acid (terephtalic acid) and an alcohol (ethylene glycol).


  • Easy care (fast washing and drying) and crease resistance.
  • High tensile strength and low wear and tear.
  • Very good elasticity.
  • Good resistance to various kinds of attack (light, micro-organisms, etc.).


  • Feels quite “rough”.
  • Low absorption power.
  • Non-breathing fiber.
  • Difficult to dye: the process has to be carried out at high temperatures.
  • Tendency to pill when mixed with other fibers.
  • Static.

 There are 3 types of modified polyesters can be used as alternatives to elastane, while still maintaining the properties that are specific to polyester.

  • PTT (PolyTrimethylene Terephtalate)
  • PBT (PolyButylene Terephtalate)
  • Elastomultiester



This synthetic fiber is a modified polyurethane, which is made up of flexible segments maintained by rigid segments. Elastane cannot be used on its own; its feel and its very high compression capacity do not lend themselves to that. In actual fact, it is only present in clothes in very low proportions (between 2 and 5% for ready-made clothes, and up to 33% for high-compression sports leggings) and it must be mixed in with the thread or the fabric, depending on the effect sought-after.

To compensate for the disadvantages of elastane, modified polyesters are being increasingly used.


  • High elastic properties.
  • Good drying properties.
  • Very little creasing.


  • Fragility and shape hold with wear (especially in chlorinated water).
  • Cannot be used alone, and therefore must be hidden in the heart of the thread or within the garment’s construction.
  • Only exists in white, translucent and black.
  • Tends to go yellow.
  •  Less strong than other synthetic fibers.


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