Polyolefin fibers are synthetic fibers in which the fiber forming substance is a synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of polyethylene, polypropylene or any other polyolefin.
Most polyolefin fibers are made from polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene (PE). The later is the most widely used polyolefin. The original PE fibers were of low strength, impossible to dye, and had poor heat and sunlight resistance and a low melting point. Newer grades have much improved properties. For example, high molecular weight polyethylene fibers (HMWP) are extremely strong and are one of the lightest fibers. For this reason, they find applications in protective clothing.
PP fibers have a higher melting point than PE fibers and thus, are more temperature stable than PE fibers. They also have the lowest specific gravity of all fibers; thus, yield the greatest fiber volume for a given weight. For example, the density of polypropylene fibers is 40% lower than those of polyester and 25% lower than those of nylon (polyamide). Polypropylene has the lowest conductivity of all textile fibers and thus is ideal for insulation purposes. Newer PP fibers are dyeable, have improved strength, high abrasion and sunlight resistance.
Olefin's advantages are their strength, color-fastness, and excellent resistance to staining, chemicals, mildew, abrasion, and sunlight.
|Tensile Strength (Tenacity)||Good - Excellent|
|Abrasion Resistance||Good - Excellent|
|Resistance to Sunlight||Poor|
|Flame Resistance||Slowly Burning|
COMMERCIAL Polyolefin Fibers
Olefin fibers are produced by a large number of companies. Major manufacturers include Fiber Vision, ASF, Nan Ya Plastics, Mitsubishi Rayon, Radici Group, Teijin, Honeywell, Toyobo, Lear Corp., Sinopec and Indorama Ventures.
Polypropylene fibers find uses in ropes, vehicle interiors, sport goods, wallpaper, carpeting and webbings.
High molecular weight polyethylene fibers (HMWP) find applications in protective clothing (ballistic vests, helmets, cut-resistant gloves), sailcloth, fish netting, marine cordage and a wide range of safety apparels.