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The Indian Textile Journal - January 2010 Viewpoint
Widen Raw Materials Base

Cotton is the main natural fibre used in the manufacture of technical textiles today. Raw cotton fibre, however, is insufficiently absorbent and pure for yarn-based hygiene end uses. The processes of washing and bleaching with hypochlorite or peroxide, followed by soft finish applications, allow the fibre to be used in some technical textiles and nonwovens. The main applications for cotton fibre in technical textiles include absorbent wadding, apparel interlinings, coating substrates, coverstock, filters, medical and sanitary applications, sewing thread and wipes. Wood pulp is another source of natural fibre for technical textiles, notably nonwovens. The main applications for wood pulp in technical textiles include the absorbent cores of disposable hygiene products, medical products, tea bags, wipes and cellulosic fibre manufacture.

Soya fibres come from the soya bread by-product of the lubrification process through bioengineering technologies. These fibres are similar to natural fibres and, furthermore, are compatible with human skin as they contain 20 types of amino acids. The properties of soya fibres include low specific density, lightweight, smooth handle, bright, breathable, anti-bacterial, good stretch, and resistance to acids and alkalis. They can be as fine as 0.9 decitex. In China, some 400 companies and research laboratories are presently working on the development of soya fibres. Production of these fibres is about 40,000 tonnes per annum.

Bamboo fibres are increasingly being used as a result of their antibacterial and anti-odour characteristics coupled with an ecological image. Some 1,200 different species of bamboo plant are available. The use of bamboo fibres is considered to have a low impact in terms of damaging the environment. The main properties of bamboo fibres include biodegradable, elastic and flexible, long lasting, hydrophilic, anti-bacterial, anti-odour, ultraviolet light resistant, abrasion resistant and non-pilling. Soya fibres offer excellent properties and bamboo fibres are environmentally friendly and so both are being developed further.

These developments underscore the need to promote the extensive use of such fibres in India.

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