Synthetic Fibres and Plastics

Types of Fibres

There are two types of fibre – One which are obtained from natural sources and other which are man-made.

Fibres which are obtained from natural sources are called natural fibres. For example – cotton, silk, wool, etc.

Fibres which are man-made are called man-made or synthetic fibres. For example – rayon, nylon, acrylic, etc.

Synthetic Fibres:

Synthetic fibres are small units of chemicals joined together in the form of chain. The chain so formed is called polymer. Polymer is a Greek work in which ‘poly’ means many and ‘mer’ means units. Thus, polymer means ‘made of many units joined together’.

Types of Synthetic Fibres:

Rayon:-

Rayon is sythesied from wood pulp. Rayon resembles silk, so it is also known as artificial silk. Rayon fibre can be dyed in different colours. Rayon is very cheap compared to silk.

Bed sheets, shirts, sarees, and many other clothes are made from rayon.

Nylon:-

Nylon was first commercially synthesized fibre. The production of nylon was started almost simultaneously in New York and London, thus it got its name (NY for New York and Lon for London) as nylon. Nylon is synthesized from coal, water and air. Fibre of nylon is very strong and it also resembles silk.

For the first time, nylon was used in making bristle of toothbrush commercially. After that, it was started used as fabrics.

Nylon is used in making of different types of clothes, ropes, socks, curtains, sleeping bags, parachutes, etc. The fibre of nylon is stronger than a steel wire of same thickness.

Polyester

Polyester is one of the most popular man-made fibres which are used in making clothes. It is made of repeating unit of a chemical called ester. Terylene is one of the most famous types of polyester.

Polyester is used in making different types of apparel; such as shirts, pants, jacket, bedsheets, curtains, sarees, mouse-pad, etc. Polyester is used in making ropes, fabrics for conveyor belt, cushioning and insulating material in pillow, etc.

Fabrics made from polyester fibre are almost wrinkle-free, easy to wash and have shiny appearance. It is the polyester which made the fabric cheaper in India as well as in the whole world.

Terrycot is a fabric made after mixing of terylene and cotton. Polycot, polywool, etc. are other fabrics which are made by the mixing of polyester with other natural fibres.

PET (Polyethylene terepthalate) is very famous term for polyester. Water bottles and many containers (used in kitchen), films, wires, and many other useful products are made using PET (polyester).

Acrylic:

Acrylic is man-made fibre. Since, acrylic resembles wool so it is also known as artificial wool or synthetic wool. Acrylic is cheaper than natural wool and can be dyed in various colour. Thus acrylic is very popular and taking the place of wool today.

Acrylic is used in making sweaters, blanket, and other many clothes.

Characteristic of Synthetic Fibre

  • Synthetic fibres are cheaper than natural fibre.
  • Synthetic fibres are stronger than natural fibre.
  • Synthetic fibres are more durable than natural fibre.
  • It is easy to maintain the synthetic fibres.
  • It is easy to wash the synthetic fabrics.
  • Synthetic fabrics are dried up in less time.
  • Synthetic fibres are readily available.

Plastics

Plastic is also a polymer. Units of some plastics have linear arrangement while some plastics are formed by the cross linked arrangement of their units.

Plastic can be mould in all types of possible shapes. Plastic can be recycled, coloured, reused, mould or drawn into wires. Thus, plastic is used in making toys, suitcase, bags, cabinets, brush, chairs, tables, and many other countless items. Polythene is one of the most famous types of plastic, which is used in manufacturing of carry bags.

Types of Plastic: Plastic can be divided into two main types – Thermoplastics and Thermosetting.

Thermoplastic: Plastics which can be easily bent or deform on heating are known as thermoplastic. PVC and Polythene are the examples of thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are used in making toys, bottles, combs, containers, etc.

Thermosetting plastic: Plastics which do not get deformed or softened on heating when mold once, are called thermosetting plastics. Bakelite and melamine are the examples of thermosetting plastics. Thermosetting plastics are used in making hard board, electric switch, handles of electrical appliances, handles of kitchen utensils, floor tiles, etc.

Melamine is poor conductor of heat and resists fire, thus it is used in making floor tiles, kitchen materials, etc.

Bakelite is poor conductor of electricity and heat, thus it is used in making electrical switches, and other electrical appliances.

Plastic as a material of choice:

Characteristics of Plastic

Poor conductor – Plastic is a poor conductor of heat and electricity. This makes it suitable to make the covering of electric wires, handles of electrical appliances, handles of utensils, kitchenware, floor tiles, etc.

Plastic is non-reactive: Plastic does not react with air and water and with many of the chemicals. Since, plastic does not react with air and water hence it does not get rusted like iron. This character makes plastic suitable for making of container, water tank, water bottle, plastic pipes, taps, chair, table and other many types of furniture.

Plastic is strong and durable: Plastics are light weight, durable, cheap and very strong. These qualities of plastic made it the need of today. Whether it is polythene bags or pencil box, water bottle or umbrella, furniture or air craft, the use of plastic can be seen everywhere.

Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable:

Substances which get decomposed through the natural processes, such as action of bacteria, etc. are called biodegradable substances. For example; potato peels, peels of other vegetable, food stuffs, fruit, paper, cotton cloths, wood, etc.

Substances which either do not decompose or take many years to get decomposed through the natural process, are called non-biodegradable substance, e.g. tin, aluminium, plastics, etc.

Plastic and the Environment:

Plastic is a non-biodegradable substance. If it is left or thrown, it takes many years to get decomposed or either does not get decomposed. The non-biodegradable nature of plastic has made it a very major problem for environment.

Problems:

Plastic has become very popular and is being used for many purposes. As a result, we are generating a large amount of plastic waste. Since plastic is non-biodegradable, so plastic waste is getting accumulated around us. Disposal of plastic waste is a major concern as it cannot be even burnt. Burning the plastic can result in release of many harmful gases in the atmosphere. This can lead to air pollution.

Preventive measures:

For dealing with the menace of plastic waste, we need to follow the three Rs, i.e. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reduce: We should reduce the use of plastic. For examples; instead of using plastic bags, we should use cloth or jute bag for shopping.

Reuse: We should reuse some plastic containers, whenever possible. For example; empty bottles and jars can be used for keeping other items in the home and kitchen.

Recycle: Thermoplastic can be recycled. So, items made of thermoplastic should be sent to the recycling industry. Toys, buckets, mugs, etc. are made from thermoplastic.


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Synthetic Fibres and Plastic: NCERT Solution