Materials Science & Engineering
Fibers

Fiber is a hair-like strand of material that is extremely long in relation to its width, typically more than 100 times longer than it is wide. A fiber is the smallest visible unit of any textile product, but yet is the most flexible and may be spun into yarn and made into fabrics.

Fibers naturally occur in both plants and animals. More than half of the fibers produced are natural. Natural fibers include cotton, hair, fur and silk. Other fibers can be made from synthetic chemical processes. Glasses are formed in fibers by either drawing (optical fibers) or spinning (fiberglass). They can be used for a range of applications that span the areas of architecture (insulation), optics (lasers), and composites (sports equipment and medical implants).

There are two types of manufactured fibers: regenerated and synthetic. Regenerated fibers are man-made fibers that come from natural materials by processing the materials to form a fiber structure. Examples of what regenerated fibers are used in are clothing, carpets, bedding, canvas, and diapers for babies.

Synthetic fibers are a subset of man-made fibers, made entirely from chemicals and are usually stronger than either natural or regenerated fibers. Examples of synthetic fibers are nylon, polyester, spandex, acrylic, and kevlar.