Two basic types of protein fibers are primarily used in Textile Industry: Wool and silk. Because of their availability and suitability to produce in bulk, these two natural protein fibers are popular among producers across the globe. However, like silk and Wool, there is some other protein fiber and is also used with cotton and other natural fiber as a blend. Mohair, Cashmere, Llama, Alpaca, and Vicuna are different fibers.
The ancient protein fiber is wool fiber, reportedly spun into yarn and then fabric. It can be recycled and reused, a unique feature of this fiber. The recycled wool fiber can blend with other textile fibers and be used for clothing, upholstery, or other products with natural resistance to fire and temperature. Wool is the most preferable and unique fiber among all the protein fibers because the surface of this fiber has a series of overlapping scales of proteins that point towards the tip; due to these properties in the animals, the foreign materials work their way out of the fleece. It also has water repellency properties of its own. This fiber can absorb the maximum amount of moisture, which is a particular property to feel warm when worn.
It is another oldest fiber in this world which can be dyed with brilliant colors. Historically it has been in use for 5500 years in the world. This is only the natural filament fiber other than any synthetic fiber. Silk is a significantly more delicate and lustrous fiber that gives an extra glamorous look to the clothes. Its harvesting policy is typically the harvesting of insects called bombyx more. These insects or caterpillars eat mulberry leaves and grow gradually; this kind of silk is used mainly for commercial purposes; it is white and 10-14 microns in diameter and round in cross-section. There are some steps to be grown the silk, and finally, it comes from the cocoons of the mulberry silkworm. A Silkworm can contain roughly 1000 yards of yarn that can be reeled off, spun, and woven into fabric. Cultivation of silk is called sericulture which is a profitable business. There is some difference between Wool and silk fiber. Wool fiber contains the protein called Keratin, which grows from the outer skin layer of mammals, whereas silk has the fibroin produced by the silk glands.
This protein fiber is obtained from the hair of the Angora goat, and the fabric is produced like silk fabric. It is one of the most significant hair fibers. Historically, the word mohair is derived from the Arabic Mukhayyar, the goat’s hair fabric that became mockaire in medieval times. It is also another ancient fiber that was produced in Turkey in the beginning. It is composed of a protein called Keratin. Its structure is similar to the wool fiber though the outer layer has nearly 50% of the number of scales found in fine wools. It is a lustrous fiber with good staple length and is resilient and durable. Its moisture absorbency is almost the same as wool fiber.
Cashmere fiber is commonly known as Cashmere wool or only cashmere obtained from the Cashmere goat. The name was derived from Kashmir, the northernmost geographical region in India and Pakistan. It is a kind of animal hair fiber. In some parts of Asia, it is also known as pashm or pashmina, usually produced in Kashmir, India. The fiber obtained from Cashmere goats has a protective outer coat of coarse fiber about 4 – 20 centimeters. Some downy undercoat fiber is also soft and has length ranges from 2.5 to 9 cm. It contains impurities such as grease and
vegetable matter. Coarse fibers are obtained by different mechanical de-hairing processes, which are mostly unknown. High-quality cashmere fabric or shawls contain less than 5% of the coarser yarn. It has the specialty of producing material that is warm and comfortable to wear.
Llama, Alpaca, And Vicuna Fibers
These hair fibers come from the same kind of animals found in South America. Fibers are fine and lustrous with color in white or brown. Generally, the fibers are very strong in this group and longer than any other hair fiber. These are expensive fibers in the world and are used in luxury items of textiles and garments.
Thank you to Firoz Kabir for spreading your knowledge about fibers and textiles.