Why and When Were Synthetic Fabrics Invented

Kelsey W. Popham

Fabrics have been very useful ever since the existence of humankind. They were used to create different kinds of clothes and upholstered items. For several decades, natural fabrics such as silk, cotton, wool, and linen were the only options available. Through the presence of machines and tools, people became capable of offering new fabric options known as synthetic fabrics. Ideally, they would address the limitations confronted by people using the natural ones. They are also more cost-effective, perfect for people who want to have fabric for upholstery but have a limited budget. In this article, we will discuss the history of synthetic fabrics for you to appreciate them even more.

The reasons behind the existence of synthetic fibers

The ancient people realized that the production cost that they incurred when using natural fabrics was extremely high. So, they thought why not create their own fabrics made from synthetic materials. In this way, they no longer had to spend a large sum of their hard-earned money. The first artificial silk manufactured using the bark of the mulberry trees was invented in the 1800s by a Swiss-born chemist named Audemars. Then, several innovations followed including the soft and moisture absorbing rayon fabrics made by Joseph Swan. The water-resistant PVC was also discovered during that time which is the most commonly used type of fabric today in creating outdoor furniture items and decorations.

The synthetic fibers in the 1900s

During the early 1900s, a lot more synthetic fibers were introduced. The DuPont Chemicals laboratory was the place where nylon was invented but the innovators decided to make it available for sale in the form of hosiery. It dominated the market and attracted a huge customer base because the majority of stockings were made using a combination of silk and nylons. In 1941, the Calico Printer’s Association was able to offer polyester fabrics to the public which had a lot of great features. More than a decade later, people did not stop creating new fabric options. Due to their strong commitment to innovation, they were able to add spandex to the list of synthetic fabrics. Its counterpart in the natural fabrics category is latex but it is more permeable. The downside of this type of synthetic fiber is it is prone to damages because of its less durable properties. But it is still the most popular and useful fabric for people belonging to the hospitality and medical industries.

The synthetic fibers in the recent years

As more and more people have become more participative in the issues in society including environmental degradation, they now prefer to use eco-friendly fabrics and items. Recently, a lot of criticisms and hate are directed towards the use of synthetic materials. Despite the fact that they are products of technology and that they contribute to a better fashion sense, the sales generated by artisans decreased because of this change in perception. Researchers have been debating whether or not synthetic fibers are still needed today. 

Manufacturers using synthetic fibers are also experiencing a huge backlash from the general public because they claim that their products compromise the safety of the environment. But they still prefer to incorporate them in their items because of the low production cost, better features, and higher durability. Despite the said issues, innovators continuously do their jobs of creating new fabrics. In fact, in September of 2016, a nanoPE was invented which has smaller holes than the typical fabrics. This kind of feature will allow weavers to spread out the materials even more leading to a better pattern and cooling effect making the apparel comfortable to wear. They are popular in the sports industry because of their unmatched comfortability, durability, and quality. 

In a Nutshell

There is no denying that synthetic fibers have great contributions to the way people live their lives today. Because of their existence, some clothes can warm you during cold and winter seasons while some are best used when you want to go swimming at a beach. Considering the high concern on the environment, it is recommended that researchers can guarantee people that the innovative fabrics have better features but do not compromise the safety of the ecology. 

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