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Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers that are made of any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85 % by weight of acrylonitrile units. The clear liquid acrylonitrile was first made in Germany in 1893, but it was the research at DuPont that produced the first acrylic fiber in the mid 1940s.

Acrylic textiles are lightweight, soft and warm with a wool-like feel. In fact, the marketing of acrylic fibers frequently takes advantage of their wool-like characteristics. The polymer is colored before it is turned into fibers as it does not dye very well but has excellent colorfastness. Acrylic is inherently resistant to moths, oils, chemicals and is very resistant to deterioration from sunlight exposure. The key factor that lends acrylic fabric its quality of comfort is its ability of moisture transportation and wicking. Acrylic fiber is characterized by inherent polarity, i.e. the ability to attract and convey moisture. Due to this quality, acrylic fiber gives lifetime wicking capability to fabrics made of it. The key advantages of acrylic fibers can be summarized as follows:

·        Due to its wicking ability and other characteristics, the fabric designers all over world are opting acrylic fabrics for manufacturing garments for all seasons.

·        Not only the acrylic fabrics are high in performance but also they have a luxurious feel and they also drape very well.

·        They are lightweight but have more bulk. This is due to their quality of lower specific gravity.

·        They are comfortable to wear due to high moisture management.

·        They have high colorfastness.

·        They are odor, moth and mildew resistant too.

·        In cold weather acrylics provide excellent insulation and warmth without any extra weight.

The disadvantages of acrylic are that it tends to fuzz or pill easily and that it does not insulate the wearer as well as wool or cashmere. Moreover, acrylic has a bad reputation amongst many knitters - however cheap the yarn is, its performance does not come near natural fibers. Also, some knitters complain that the fiber "squeaks" when knitted. It is also mentioned that acrylic can irritate the skin of people with eczema.

Uses - Acrylic fiber has replaced wool in many major applications, particularly in hand knitting and hosiery garments. It has also recently been used in clothing as a less expensive alternative to cashmere, due to the similar feeling of the materials. Many products, like fake pashmina or cashmina, use this fiber to create the illusion of cashmere.

The major application of acrylic fibers is in apparel. In fact, acrylic fabrics can be used all the year round due to their comfort factor. Inspired from the consumers’ demands and a wide range of advantages, the apparel manufacturers utilize it for making various clothing regardless of any specific season. Thus, acrylic fabrics are mostly used to make such garments that need to make the wearer more and more comfortable through moisture management such as outwear pile fabrics, thermal underwears, socks and tights, sweaters and sleepwear. Knitted apparel items of acrylic include fleece fabrics, sweaters and socks. Although being replaced by less expensive polyester, fleece fabrics of acrylic are used for coats, jackets, linings or soft stuffed animals. Antistatic acrylics are used in apparel for computer clean rooms.

Craft yarns, another important end use of acrylic fibers are often made of a heavier denier (5-6 denier). Many sweaters, baby garments, vests and afghans are knitted or crocheted with these yarns. Acrylic yarns are also used in embroidery , weaving, and other crafts.


Upholstery fabrics have a wool-like appearance and may be flat woven fabrics or velvets with good durability and stain resistance. Drapery fabrics of acrylic are resistant to sunlight and weathering. Acrylics are used in lightweight and winter-weight blankets. Carpets and rugs of acrylic or blends look more wool-like than several other synthetic fibers. Acrylic blankets, carpets and rugs have easier care requirements and cost less than those of wool.

Today, acrylics are found in a number of industrial uses for which their chemical and abrasion resistance and good weathering properties make them suitable: awnings and tarpaulins, luggage, boat and other vehicle covers, outdoor furniture, tents, room dividers, and sandbags. When exposed to chemicals, fibers with good chemical resistance show little or no loss of physical structure or fiber properties. Sunbrella mass-pigmented acrylic awnings by Glen Raven Mills, withstand exposure to sun, wind and rain for years without fading, cracking, hardening, peeling or rotting. A crosslinked superabsorbent acrylic, Oasis, is used in nonwovens filters to remove water from fuels, solvents and other organic lilquids, in gaskets and seals.   

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