For thousands of years, man’s use of fibers was limited by the inherent qualities of the fibers found in nature. Cotton and linen wrinkled from wear and washings. Silk required the most delicate handling as a thread or finished garment. Wool would shrink, be irritating to the touch, or be food for moths.
Then, in 1889, a French chemist stunned Paris and the world with his first strands of “artificial silk.” The first manufactured fiber — rayon — had been invented. It began a relentless assault on the secrets of chemistry that control the creation of fibers for endless new applications.
Manufactured fibers first were put to work in apparel and home furnishings, and later, in medicine, aeronautics, energy, industry, and more. Fiber engineers now combine, modify, and tailor fibers in ways far beyond the limits of fibers drawn from the silkworm cocoon, grown in the fields, or spun from the fleece of animals.
Innovation has been the hallmark of the manufactured fiber industry since its infancy, and the future beckons with unlimited new applications. Scientists have discovered ways to create fibers much more diverse than any found in nature.
At he start of the 20th century, manufactured fibers accounted for only 1% of the American fiber market. As we turn the corner into the 21st century they now account for 70% of the fiber used.
The Manufactured Fiber Fact Book fills out the record and provides useful information on one of the modern age’s great industrial success stories.