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man-made fibre

fibre whose chemical composition, structure, and properties are significantly modified during the manufacturing process. Man-made fibres are spun and woven into a huge number of consumer and industrial products, including garments such as shirts, scarves, and hosiery; home furnishings such as upholstery, carpets, and drapes; and industrial parts such as tire cord, flame-proof linings, and drive belts. The chemical compounds from which man-made fibres are produced are known as polymers, a class of compounds characterized by long, chainlike molecules of great size and molecular weight. Many of the polymers that constitute man-made fibres are the same as or similar to compounds that make up plastics, rubbers, adhesives, and surface coatings. Indeed, polymers such as regenerated cellulose, polycaprolactam, and polyethylene terephthalate, which have become familiar household materials under the trade names rayon, nylon, and Dacron (trademark), respectively, are also made into numerous nonfibre products, ranging from cellophane envelope windows to clear plastic soft-drink bottles. As fibres, these materials are prized for their strength, toughness, resistance to heat and mildew, and ability to hold a pressed form

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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