Fibers, Specialty Organic
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Published: November 2011
This report covers organic fibers used in either specialty high performance, textile or functional applications. High performance fibers are generally characterized by their outstanding tensile strength and stiffness (modulus) as well as resistance to heat, fire and chemical agents that normally degrade conventional fibers. Applications include use in aerospace, biomedical, civil engineering, construction, protective apparel, geotextiles and electronics. Most of the organic fibers covered in this report are made by a limited number of producers; sometimes there is just one global producer. Global demand can be as low as 100 metric tons per year, and some fibers are only produced in pilot plant operations. These fibers usually require expensive raw materials made by a limited number of producers; prices are at least $5 per kilogram for nearly all of these fibers.
Specialty organic fibers generally possess one or more of the following properties:
- Excellent fire resistance
- Superior thermal resistance
- Good chemical resistance
- Excellent wear resistance
- High modulus and/or high strength
- Light weight
The following pie chart shows world production of the major specialty organic fibers (value basis):
Each type of specialty organic fiber covered in the report is classified under one of the following general categories:
High Performance Fibers
- Aramid Fibers
- Polybenzimidazole Fibers
- Polybenzoxazole Fibers
- Polyethylene Fibers, High-Strength
- Polyimide Fibers
- Polyamideimide Fibers
- Polyacrylonitrile Fibers, Partially Oxidized
- Novoloid Fibers
- Liquid Crystal Polymer Fibers
- Other High Performance Fibers
Specialty Apparel Fibers
- Polyvinyl Alcohol Fibers (Vinal)
- Elastomeric Fibers
- Rubber Threads
- Other Specialty Apparel Fibers
- Polymeric Optical Fibers
- Hollow Fibers
Within each of these general categories, individual fibers are presented in descending order of economic importance.
Demand for high performance fibers is growing. One of the more important growing sectors is ballistic protection, where para-aramid (e.g., Kevlar® and Twaron®) and high-strength polyethylene fibers are used. Demand has incr eased strongly during the 2000s as a result of the U.S. military involvement in the Middle East and greater concern over terrorist attacks. Several other niche areas where these fibers are used are fire protective clothing/fire protection apparel, hot gas filtration media, aircraft brakes, optical fibers, dialyzers, and special consumer apparel.