Class 8 Science

Synthetic Fibres

Natural Fibre: Fibres which are obtained from plants and animals are called natural fibres, e.g. cotton, wool, silk, jute, etc.

Synthetic Fibre: Fibres which are man-made are called synthetic fibres, e.g. nylon, acrylic, etc. A synthetic fibre is made of multiple units of a chemical substance. The units in a fibre are joined together like a chain.

Petrochemicals: Almost all synthetic fibres are made using raw materials from petroleum. Such raw materials which come from petroleum are called petrochemicals.

Polymer: A chain of a particular chemical substance is called a polymer. The individual unit in a polymer is called the monomer. Thus, a polymer is made up of many monomers. All synthetic fibres are polymers. Even cotton is a polymer.

Types of Synthetic Fibre


Rayon was discovered towards the end of the nineteenth century. It was made by chemical treatment of wood pulp and was the first synthetic fibre.


Nylon was made in 1931. The term ‘nylon’ has been derived from letters of ‘New York’ and ‘London’. No ingredient from plant or animal source was used in making nylon, as it is made from coal, water and air. Hence, nylon is called the first truly synthetic fibre.


Polyester is made of repeating units of a chemical called ester.


Acrylic resembled wool and hence is also called synthetic wool. It is cheaper and more durable than wool, and is easier to wash and maintain.

Characteristics of Synthetic Fibres: