Synthetic Materials and Their Qualities – Polyamide, Acrylic and Rayon

Last time we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of polyester, nylon and elastane. This time we will look at other popular synthetic materials that are frequently used in sport, fashion and various industrial applications. We will focus on their advantages and the way they are used.

Polyamide

Pink polyamide fabric.

Pink polyamide fabric.

The term “polyamide” is used to describe a whole range of extremely strong and resistant synthetic materials that all have very similar properties. These materials are labelled as PA and became one of the most widely used synthetic fabrics. Polyamides were first made in 1939 from petroleum by a complicated chemical reaction. From then, the production just kept expanding as new uses were found for newly-created strong and resistant fabric.

Polyamide fabrics are very light-weight, resistant to physical damage, highly elastic and require only minimal maintenance. Polyamide fabrics are really easy to clean and wash, they dry quickly and don’t lose their properties even after numerous washes. Polyamide is also resistant to UV radiations and chemicals. Some of the types of polyamide fabrics are also resistant to heat and high temperatures.

There are also, however, some disadvantages of using polyamide fabrics in certain applications. It produces static electricity and creates cold sensation when touched by human skin. Polyamide fabrics are mostly used to produce sportswear, but also in production of technical materials that require strong resistance, such as ropes, nets or conveyor belts.

Acrylic

The term „acrylic” is also used to describe numerous different materials that share a lot of their qualities. It was first made in 1941 and served (not only) as a substitute for wool. Nowadays, complicated polymerisation processes are used in production of acrylic.

The qualities of acrylic are really similar to those of wool. Acrylic is a really light material, that is also really pleasant to touch and easily kept in a good condition. It can withstand regular washing and still keep most of its features. Acrylic retains its colours really well and it is, in contrast with wool, hypoallergenic.

Acrylic, of course, also has some weaknesses. It is not as strong and resistant as other synthetic materials and it wears and tears quite easily. IT is mostly used in production of clothes and fashion accessories, such as scarves, gloves, caps and sweaters.

Rayon

Rayon is one of the so-called semi-synthetic fibres. It is made from naturally occurring polymers, most often from cellulose that is made from wood. This material is not as well-known and used as other synthetic materials, but it is still used in numerous different applications.

Some of rayon’s qualities are similar to naturals materials like cotton or wool. It is really pleasant to touch and comfortable to wear. Rayon is also soft, fine and it creates a cold sensation when touched. When it comes to clothes manufacture, rayon is really easy to dye and its colours don’t fade even after numerous washes.

Rayon also, however, has multiple weaknesses. It is not as strong and resistant as other synthetic or natural materials. If it gets wet, it tends to lose its quality. It is also one of the least elastic fabric and unable to retain body heat, which makes it more suitable to create clothes and accessories meant to be used in hot and dry climate.