New developments in manufacturing of synthetic fibers
is a continuous process. Many fibers
have been developed which possess such qualities that have given a setback to the natural fiber
too. One of such developments is that of microfibers. Microfibers are synthetic fibers that measure less than one denier. Denier is the measurement of linear density and is used to describe the size of a fiber or filament. Over nine thousand meters of a one-denier fiber weighs over one gram. Most of the microfibers are made of polyester, though they can also be composed of nylon or other polymers. They are exceptionally strong and ultra fine - four times finer than wool fiber
, three times finer than cotton fiber
and twice as fine as silk fiber
Characteristics of Microfibers
have many qualities due to which they are preferred in many applications mostly for cleaning various surfaces.
- In spite of very fine quality, microfibers have exceptional strength.
- They are breathable fabrics.
- Their comfort is similar to natural fibers.
- They are soft.
- They are very durable.
- They can be easily maintained and cared for.
- They retain their original shape.
- They are windproof and water resistant.
- They have good moisture wicking ability.
- They have excellent drape.
- They are light weight.
- They carry electrodynamic ability.
- They have good filtering capabilities.
On a whole, microfibers are high performance and low maintenance fabrics.
Applications of Microfiber Fabrics
Developed in Sweden, microfiber fabrics were originally used as wiping cloths due to their many characteristics suitable for cleaning. Gradually, they started to be used as table cloths, blankets and other home furnishings. Due to their softer feel, good drapability, moisture wicking property, water repellent characteristics, they are used for making a variety of apparel, clothing & garments. They are widely used for making rain wear, sportswear, mens suits, kids clothing, inner wears, hosiery, evening wear, outerwear, sheeting, upholstery and many textile accessories.
The first and the foremost purpose for which microfibers are used, is for making wiping cloths and mops for cleaning. Those wipes used for consumer cleaning are generally made from split conjugated fibers of polyester and polyamide and those used for commercial cleaning are made from 100% polyester microfiber. High-quality microfiber when combined with the right knitting process, creates a cleaning material par excellence which can hold up to seven times its weight in water. They can also absorb oils, that too in a very effective manner. They are excellent for removing wax, quick detailing, cleaning interior and glass, as well as drying of cars and other automotive as they leave no lint or dust. They prevent dust particles from floating in the air and allows them to settle on the cloth due to their electrostatic properties which attracts dirt, fats or grease. Thus they are also ideal for allergy sufferers. They also pick up much of the bacteria from the surface being cleaned. In fact, they reduce the number of bacteria by 99% whereas a conventional cleaning cloth reduces them only by 33%.
Due to microfiber's high absorption quality and moisture wicking ability, this fabric has become a popular choice for performance apparel and sports wear. It is fast replacing cotton fabrics
in production of these specialty clothings. As microfiber wicks moisture away from the body, it keeps the wearer cool and dry. As such, it has come to occupy an important position in the category of moisture management fabrics
. As this fabric is liquid and stain resistant, it is ideal for office wear even in rainy season. When blended with other fabrics like nylon fabric
and polyester fabric
, it results into hybrid cloth having a very superior quality.
Microfiber fabric can be given textures like waffle texture, velour texture, etc. Waffle texture is used in blankets and bed coverings
as the dimples created by the air pockets of this texture keep the user warm. Velour textured fabrics are very comfortable and soft that are increasingly being used by fashion designers for their clothing lines. Microfibers used in tablecloths and as upholstery are designed to be liquid and stain resistant. These fabrics show liquids in the form of bead on the surface until they are removed. Microfibers are also used in bath towels
and other towels, especially those used for swimming pool purposes, as they allow very quick drying. Many furniture such as sofas have a polyester base and microfiber is used as their top covering. As a result one would not need fabric protectors or stain removing cleaners as microfiber is already stain resistant. Microfiber fabric is also used for thermal insulation in sleeping bags
and outdoor equipment as they can retain heat better when damp or wet.
Careful Usage of Microfiber Fabrics
In spite of having many advantages, care has to be taken while using microfiber fabrics, especially when using these cloths to clean sensitive surfaces. As microfiber fabric tends to accumulate dust, debris, and particles in its structure, it can easily damage the sensitive surfaces like the high-tech coated surfaces e.g. CRT, LCD and plasma screens. These surfaces should be protected from abrasion due to dust particles gathered in the wiping cloth. To minimize the risk, a flat, non-rugged microfiber cloth can be used, as they tend to be less prone to holding such fine abrasive materials such as sand grains.