Natural fibers and fabrics consist of bulk fibers, yarns, or woven cloth manufactured from plant materials such as cotton, wool, linen (flax), sisal, jute, hemp, or silk. Blended fiber structures are also available. In addition to material type, specifications for natural fibers and fabrics include product type, dimensions, properties, and applications. Structural features are also important to consider. Some natural fibers and fabrics are chemical resistant, fuel resistant, electrically conductive, or electrically insulating. Others are flame retardant or provide acoustic and thermal insulation.
There are many different types of natural fibers and fabrics. Choices include fibers and monofilaments, roving and yarn, and carded and needlepunched nonwovens. Bulk chopped fibers or thin, continuous fiber filaments are used typically in composite reinforcement applications, flowable insulation, or as the key component in woven fabrics, braids, knits, rope roving or other specialty fabrics. Roving is made of tows, untwisted bundles of continuous filaments. Yarn is made of continuous, often plied strands of natural fibers and fabrics. Carded and needlepunched nonwovens offer very high loft (low density) at very low cost.
Types of natural fibers and fabrics include braided products, rope and cordage, webbing, and thread. Braided products are used in tubular composite structures, thermal insulation fabrics, and many other applications. Rope is used in material handling, shipping, construction, logging, and marine applications. Cordage is a generic term that covers various types of cords, lines, ropes, and strings. Webbing is a textile product that is supplied as a woven ribbon, strapping, or tape. Webbing unravels when cut, a feature which distinguishes it from cordage and rope. Threads are thin, continuous threads or filaments are used for stitching or reinforcement. These natural fibers and fabrics include both monofilaments and multi-fiber threads.