Staple Fiber

Staple fibers in vivid colors

A fiber or fibre (from Latin: fibra) can be described as any substance, natural or manufactured, that is suitable for being processed into a fabric. Fiber properties include length (staple or filament), size and surface contour. These properties affect the end use and aesthetics. But what exactly does staple fiber mean?

What are Staple Fibers?

According to the staple fibre definition in the textile industry, a staple is any fiber of cotton, wool or ramie etc. with a practical, limited or finite length. Staple fibers are short and hairlike, usually no more than a few inches long, and the length of the fiber varies within a fiber of the same source and also between varieties obtained from different sources. Staple fibers are measured in inches or centimeters. They include almost all natural fibers except silk (a natural fiber that doesn’t have a staple form).

Manufacturing Process

The staple fibre production process can differ depending on the fiber type, however in most of the cases, the fiber structure of synthetic filaments is formed during the polymer spinning process and the properties are determined by the processing parameters selected during production.

In one of the typical examples of how the staple fibre is made, the resin is fed to fiber spin beams. The spin packs are heated using the heat transfer fluid system. They have many small holes and each of them has a controlled supply of polymer paste, which is forced through the holes to form fiber strands of the proper size, which are then air cooled and a spin finish is applied.

In some cases, the staple fibre manufacturing process also includes prewetting undrawn yarns and drawing the fibers under wet and warm conditions, thermo-fixing the texture, and drying at low temperatures. The fibers are gathered to form a tow band, and then they can be heated, washed, and/or stretched. The tow is cut to the desired length on a rotary cutter and then fed into a bale press. The final steps are usually the quality control techniques in testing laboratories where various tests on polyester staple fibers are performed.

The production facility of the RILON factory is equipped with the latest technology for synthetic fiber production, which is a guarantee of the top quality for local and international customers on the staple fibre market. The existing capacity of this staple fiber manufacturer satisfies the production of 150 tons of staple fiber, 96 tons of filaments as well as 10 tons of finished and 20 of unfinished yarn on a monthly level, with potential for growth.

Staple fiber manufacturing process in Rilon factory

Types of Staple Fibers

There are multiple ways to classify the staple fiber, however the main types are:

  • Natural staple fibres.
  • Man-made or synthetic staple fibers

Natural staple fibers

  • Most natural fibres, such as cotton and wool, are staple fibres.

In terms of utilization, there are two general classifications of plants producing natural fibers: primary and secondary. The primary plants (jute, kenaf, hemp, sisal, and cotton) are those grown for their fiber contents, while secondary plants (pineapple, cereal, stalks, agave, oil palm, and coir) are those where the fibers come as a by-product from some other preliminary utilization. In various applications, natural fibers extracted from plants are used as reinforcements in both thermoplastic and thermoset composites.

Man-made or synthetic staple fibers

Man-made or synthetic staple fibers (polyolefin staple fibers, polypropylene staple fibers, polyester staple fibers, acrylic staple fiber, viscose staple fiber, nylon, spandex and others). Man made staple fibers are made of polymers that do not occur naturally, but instead are produced fully in the chemical plant or laboratory, almost always from by-products of petroleum or natural gas.

They can also be classified on the basis of applications:

  • Woven fabrics of staple fiber
  • Nonwoven
  • Industrial
  • Others

Packages of multicolored staple fibers

What Are Staple Fibers Used For

Staple fibers are the basis for making textured yarns (more information), and these are widely intended for industrial use as well as for clothing. Staple fibers must be spun or twisted together to make a long continuous strand of yarn, and there are many ways of combining yarns to create a fabric: weaving, knitting, nonwoven fabric production, depending on the end product.

Through these processes, a fabric’s characteristics can be manipulated through blending, manipulation of the fiber and other methods in order to get the desired fineness, strength, elasticity and structure. They can also be made into non-woven fabrics through compression and used for a wide range of applications, including automobile, construction, furniture, sanitary materials and agriculture.

There are many ways of creating a staple yarn from groups of fiber. Typical yarn formations include:

  • Single (fiber combined into a single yarn)
  • Plied (two or more yarns twisted together)
  • Cabled (several plied yarns twisted together)
  • Blended (different fiber types combined in a yarn)
  • Core spun (a yarn with one type of fiber in the centre of the yarn, which is usually wrapped by staple fiber)
  • Yarns with special effects or irregularities, e.g. loops occurring along the length of the yarn.

A factory line with staple fiber in multiple colors

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the differences between staple and filament fibers?

A: The main difference between staple and filament fibers is in their length. All fibers having a practically unlimited or infinite length are called filaments. Filament fibers are continuous (long) fiber. Any fiber with a practical, limited or finite length is called staple fiber. These are small length fibers like cotton, wool, jute etc.

Q: What are the Advantages of Using Staple Fibers vs. Filament Fibers?

A: If we take carpets as an example, despite the shedding, carpets made with staple fibers are preferred because of their more uniform appearance and solid color. They can have a variety of looks, including dense, luxurious finishes, and are versatile enough to be constructed in a wide variety of weights and textures.

Q: Are filament fibers stronger than staple fibers?

A: Yes, filament yarns are made by gathering together long continuous fibers, with or without the twist. They are stronger than staple yarns, which is why before the discovery of synthetic manufactured fibers, the silk was used in the production of parachutes.

Q: Are manufactured fibers only available in staple form?

A:  Manufactured fiber such as polyester can be produced in both filament and staple form. With artificial staple fibers, the fibre is drawn from the chemical mix in one continuous filament, but filament fibres can be cut into shorter staple fibres and used this way.

Q: Why are staple fibers carded?

A:  Carding is a common web-forming process used for staple fibers in the nonwovens industry, which utilizes a series of machines to open, blend, individualize, parallelize, and lay fibers to form a web (read more here). Carded webs can be produced with bicomponent staple fibers designed to split into fine fibers. They offer benefits such as increased surface area, decreased pore size, improved cover, and enhanced strength.

Q: Is it easier to make spun yarn from staple fibers vs filament yarn from filament fibers?

A: It’s easier to make staple fibre yarn, ie. spun yarn from staple fibers, because filament yarns are composed only of manufactured fibers or silk. Spun yarns, however, may consist of both natural and manufactured fibers.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will do our best to help you answer them.

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Staple is any fiber with a limited length. They are short and hairlike, so they are the basis for making textured yarns, for industrial use and for clothing.
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