When did man-made fibers hit the market in the U.S.?

While reading back over old issues of Spin-Off, I found an article about synthetic fibers that fascinated me.  It made me go out of my way to order a 1978 book titled Man-Made Fibers Fact Book.  Before 1900, man-made synthetic fibers didn’t really exist.

The article lists a number of synthetics with their first U.S. commercial production:

rayon —1910
acetate —1924
rubber —1930
glass —1936
nylon —1939
vinyon —1939
saran —1941
metallic —1946
modacrylic —1949
olefin —1949
acrylic —1950
polyester —1953
triacetate —1954
spandex —1959
aramid —1961

And a few textiles that, at the time of publication, hadn’t been produced in the U.S.:

What synthetic do you think he’s wearing?


While some of these names look familiar to me, there are just as many that I’m not familiar with.  But I bet most of you have spun yarn with firestar or angelina in it.  Firestar is a type of nylon.  Angelina is a type of polyester.

With the current preference for natural fibers over synthetic fibers, many synthetics have been left to the commercial sector, or abandoned in favor of better synthetics.  For some man-made fibers, environmental responsibility becomes a question about their production methods.

Over the next few weeks, let’s examine some of the synthetic fibers, benefits, negatives, and practical application for the hand-spinner.

Man-Made Fibers Fact Book, , Man-Made Fiber. Producers Association, Inc. 1978.

Richards, H. R. (1978). Fibers — From Where to Where. Spin-Off, 33-36.



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