One of the most important developments in recent years has been the technology to extrude extremely fine filaments (less than 1.0 denier) while maintaining all of the strength, uniformity and processing characteristics expected by textile manufacturers and consumers. These “microfibers” are even finer than luxury natural fibers, such as silk[#1]. This comparison, coupled with their exceptional performance, has led some in the industry to refer to microfibers as “supernatural”. They live up to that name.
In many product lines, it is the luxurious feel and look of the fabrics which makes microfibers so special. In others, it is this unique physical and mechanical performance.
Consider, for example, the advantages of polyester microfiber when used in outerwear. A raincoat or jacket made from 100% microfiber will be much lighter and more comfortable than one made from conventional fibers[#2]. Since the small filaments pack closely together, they provide a wind barrier to prevent loss of body heat and assuring comfort on chilly days. This close packing of fibers, together with polyesters’ natural resistance to wetting also gives the fabric the ability to repel rain[#4]. The non-wetting surface of the fibers causes water to form beads (like rain on a newly-waxed car). These beads are much larger than the spaces between the yarns and water is effectively locked out. And this is done without the need for chemical treatments or coatings which can make the fabric heavier and less able to “breathe”. Fabrics from microfibers, on the other hand, breathe well[#3]. Although the spaces between the yarns are too small to be penetrated by liquid water, they are ample for the passage of moisture vapor, leaving the wearer dry and comfortable.
This is only one example. Microfiber yarns are now available for most major generic fibers. They can bring their outstanding performance to a wide variety of end uses.