Hierarchy of fibre assemblies

Textiles represent a complex hierarchy of fibres, yarns, fabrics and 3D fabric assemblies. This hierarchy and the principal processes involved are summarised in Fig. 6.1. To produce any protective textile takes many different manufacturing processes. They can broadly be classified under processes to produce fibres, yarns, fabrics, finished fabrics and made-up textiles. If raw material is considered a separate category then the protective function of a textile product can be introduced or modified in any of the category stages. For example, nanomaterials can be used at the raw material stage to add to fibres to impart, flame retardance, chemical absorbance or electrical conductivity to a fibre. Selection of the type of fibre production process and fibre type can all impart protective properties.

The surface structure of fibres can be modified giving interesting properties; fibres can be crimped increasing their insulation ability. At the yarn processing stage, strength, stretch, bulk properties can be introduced and yarns can be blends of fibres or yarns. Strength, impact resistance, permeability, drape and stretch are some of the properties that can be introduced at the fabric production stage. At the finishing stage extra protective properties can be added. For example, waterproof finishes can be applied to give water protection. Fabrics can be laminated giving layered materials with differing properties on each side. Therefore at each stage protective properties can be added or modified to tailor the textile product for protection against a specific hazard. The following sections contain a brief description of the stages of textile processing, primarily aimed at non-specialist-textile readers.

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