Synthetic fibers , also known as synthetic fibres (in British English; see spelling differences) are made by humans through chemical synthesis as opposed to natural fibers which are directly derived from living organisms, such as the plants (like cotton) or fur from animals. They are the result of intensive research conducted by scientists to replicate naturally occurring plant and animal fibers. They are produced by extruding fiber-forming materials by spinning them into a fiber. These are also referred to as synthetic or artificial fibers like Aluminium extrusion. The term “polymer” comes from the Greek term that includes the suffix “poly” which translates to “many” and the suffix “mer” that means “single pieces”. (Note: each single piece of polymer is called”a monomer”).
The first synthetic fiber was glass. Joseph Swan invented one of the first synthetic fibers in the 1880s The fiber is today called semisynthetic in precise usage. The fiber was derived from a cellulose liquid, made by chemically altering the fiber contained in tree bark. The synthetic fiber created through this process was chemically comparable in its applications potential as the carbon filament Swan designed for the incandescent bulb but Swan soon realized that the possibility of using the filament to revolutionize the manufacturing of textiles. In 1885, he unveiled fabrics made from its synthetic materials at International Inventions Exhibition in London.
Another step undertaken by Hilaire de Chardonnet who was an French industrialist and engineer, who invented the first artificial silk, which he referred to as “Chardonnet silk”. In the 1870s, Chardonnet was working with Louis Pasteur on a remedy to the epidemic that was ruining French silkworms. The failure to remove an accident in the darkroom resulted Chardonnet’s discovery in nitrocellulose as potential replacement for silk. Conscient of the benefits of such an invention, Chardonnet began to develop his new product, which presented during the Paris Exhibition of 1889. The material he developed by Chardonnet was extremely flammable and was eventually replaced with other, more stable materials.