Understanding the Definition of Fiber and its Types

The definition of fiber or in English is fiber is a type of material in the form of pieces of components that form a long and intact network. In general, there are two types of fiber, namely natural fibers and synthetic fibers. Natural fibers are then classified again according to their origin, such as plants, wood fibers and animals.

Fiber is widely used by humans to make clothes or used as the main material for making certain crafts. Usually, the fibers used as raw materials for clothing are natural fibers made from plants, animals and wood and not synthetic fibers. In order to understand the meaning of fiber and know the types of fiber, see the explanation further in this article!

Definition of Fiber

Fiber is a type of material in the form of component pieces that have a long and intact network shape. An example of the most commonly encountered fiber is the fiber in cloth.

According to the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI), fiber is a material that has a very large ratio of length and width with oriented compound molecules, especially in the long direction. Cotton fiber for example, when has a length and width ratio ranging from 500 or about one to 1000.

In addition, fiber is also used as a raw material for textiles. Fibers used as textile raw materials are fibers used for textile applications. Fiber can also be interpreted as a raw material used in the manufacture of yarn and cloth.

As a raw material for making yarn and cloth, fiber has an important role. The properties of the fiber will affect the properties of the resulting yarn and fabric, whether processed mechanically or chemically treated.

Textile raw materials are materials for clothing and other needs. In general, fiber as a raw material is divided into two types, namely natural fibers and synthetic fibers.

Natural fibers have been known and used as raw materials since thousands of years before Christ. Some historical evidence even notes that natural fiber materials have been used since 2640 BC.

Quoted from the Learningmu.com page , the country that first processed natural fibers was China. Since ancient times, China has produced silk fiber. Silk fiber is obtained from caterpillars and these fibers are then processed into yarn and then produced to meet the needs of textile products.

Besides silk, another natural fiber material is cotton. In fact, since 1540 BC there has been a cotton industry in India. In its development, natural fiber materials are often used in other parts of the world, for example, flax fiber was first used in Switzerland in 1000 BC, then there was wool fiber used in Mesopotamia since 1000 BC.

For thousands of years, flax, wool, cotton and silk fibers have been the raw material for various human needs. Then, in the early 20th century, synthetic or artificial fibers were introduced.

The production of natural fiber materials is quite stable from year to year, but the percentage of all textile fiber production is decreasing over time, given the increasing number of production of synthetic fiber materials which are increasingly preferred.

This causes the availability of natural fibers to be very limited, besides that natural fibers can only be produced if climatic conditions are favorable, thus requiring a longer process than synthetic fibres.

The conditions of the dry season or rainy season can affect the production of natural fiber materials. Natural fibers have properties that are resistant to dry or rainy seasons, although in general natural fibers have healthy characteristics, in terms of quantity, shape, nature or size they will certainly experience obstacles.

If natural fiber is produced continuously, it will affect the market price. The more scarce the availability of natural fiber materials, the more expensive the production costs will be and make the selling price of natural fiber materials more expensive.

Fiber Types

Synthetic Fiber

The first type of fiber is synthetic fiber. Synthetic fibers are fibers made by a chemical synthesis process. Synthetic fibers or man-made fibers are different from natural fibers produced by living organisms, such as plants or animal hair.

Synthetic fibers are produced through research by scientists to be able to duplicate natural events that occur in animals and plant fibers. In general, synthetic fibers are made by extracting fiber material through a spinneret, then producing a synthetic fiber.

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Synthetic fibers have several advantages over natural fibers, one of which is that they are more durable and can absorb various kinds of dyes. Another advantage of synthetic fibers is that they are more user friendly, for example they are water resistant, stain resistant and stretchable.

However, there are some disadvantages of synthetic fibers, including the following:

  • Single synthetic fibers cannot trap water like natural fibres, so they provide poor insulation.
  • Synthetic fibers are more flammable than natural fibers.
  • Vulnerable to damage caused by heat, for example when cleaned with hot water.
  • It’s easier to melt.
  • Generates static electricity by rubbing against natural fibers.
  • Most synthetic fibers absorb very little moisture, so users of synthetic fibers will feel sticky when their bodies sweat.
  • Synthetic fibers are a source of microplastic pollution from washing machines.

There are several categories of common synthetic fibers, for example nylon was discovered in 1931, modacrylic was discovered in 1949, olefin was discovered in 1949, acrylic was discovered in 1950 and polyester was discovered in 1953.

Natural Fiber

The second type of fiber is natural fiber. Natural fiber is a type of fiber produced from plants, animals or geological processes. Natural fibers can experience weathering and can be classified into three, namely plants, wood and animals, along with an explanation.


  • Plant Fiber

Plant fiber is a thread-like material that comes from plants. Plant fibers are classified into four, including seed, leaf, stem and fruit fibers. Usually plant fiber is composed of cellulose and hemicellulose and sometimes also contains lignin in it. Here are some examples of plant fibers.


  • Hemp fiber

Hemp fiber is a plant fiber that comes from the Boehmeria nivea plant and is one of the materials used to wrap corpses in China. In addition, hemp fiber is also often used as a raw material for making canvas or rigging.

  • Abaca fiber

Abaka fiber is a fiber produced from Musa textilis, a plant that has a split shape and originates from the Philippines. Abaca fiber is also known as Manila. Usually, the people of the Philippines use abaca fiber as a raw material for making clothes for nobles or clothes for respectable families in the Philippines.

  • Urine fiber 

Urene fiber is a fiber produced from a plant called Urena lobata and is used as a basic material for household needs, for example material for making sacks. The characteristic of urea fiber is that it has a slightly creamy white color and is shiny, smooth and flexible in texture.

  • Sun fiber

Sunn fiber is fiber that comes from a plant called Crotalaria Juncea. Sunn fiber is a fiber that is mostly produced in Pakistan and India. The benefits of sunn fiber are as a raw material for making paper, sacks, nets or rope.

  • Kenaf fiber

Kenaf fiber is a fiber that comes from a plant called Hibiscus Cannabinus and is most commonly found around Pakistan and India. The outer stem of this plant has a fairly rough texture compared to the inner stem.


  • Wood fiber 

The second type of natural fiber is wood fiber which comes from woody plants. Wood fiber has a pretty beautiful texture. Examples of wood fiber are mahogany, teak, sungkai wood, ironwood, acacia wood, sangon wood, pine wood and camphor wood.

  • Animal Fiber

The third type of natural fiber is animal fiber which is composed of several proteins. Examples of animal fibers commonly used by humans are sheep wool which is processed into wool, fur skins, mineral silk which is made from asbestos. Currently, asbestos is the only naturally occurring mineral in the form of long fibers. The following is an explanation and classification of animal fiber.


  • Staple fiber

Staple fibers are a form of animal hair such as wool. Examples of animals that produce staple fiber are rabbits, vicunas, mohair, alpacas, sheep. The most widely used animal fiber is wool, which is fiber from sheep’s wool.


  • Filament 

Filaments are animal fibers that are in the form of a network. An example of a filament is the silk fiber that comes from the larvae of silkworms. Silk fiber is made from the cocoons and the cocoons are then processed to become thread, then spun to become silk cloth. Silk cloth has a fairly high selling value in the market.

Examples of Animal Fibers 

To be clearer, here are some examples of fibers derived from animal fibers:


  • Silk 

Silk fiber comes from the saliva of silkworms when they pupate. This type of silk cloth made from silk fibers has a fairly high selling price and is in great demand.

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This is because silk has a distinctive luster and fine texture that other fibers do not have. The strength of the silk fiber is also quite good, but in a wet state the strength of the fiber can be reduced by up to 15%.

Silk fiber has the characteristics of shiny, smooth, soft, strong, supple and can adapt to air temperature. If silk fiber is used as a clothing material, the clothes will feel cold and can absorb sweat well.

However, silk fibers will turn yellow when exposed to sunlight too often. Silk fibers are also impervious to heat and acids, but are resistant to moths.

The characteristics of silk fiber are having a fine texture, not slippery, strong, light, susceptible to damage by insects if left dirty, moderate to poor elasticity, weakens when exposed to sunlight.

Fabrics made from silk fiber are usually produced as ties, shirts, dresses, blouses, pajamas, robes and others, besides that silk is also widely used as upholstery for upholstery, wall coverings and wall hangings.


  • Wool 

Wool is a fiber that comes from sheep’s wool and includes animal fibers that have a fairly rough texture, wrinkled with scales on its surface. Wool fibers contain protein. The appearance of the wil fiber depends on the breed of sheep.

Wool fibers that have a finer, softer and warmer texture tend to have more scales. Meanwhile, thick wool, usually less warm and has fewer scales and has a rough texture.

The characteristics of wool fibers are hygroscopic elasticity, easy to absorb moisture, coalesce at higher temperatures, has a low rate of fire spread, and is resistant to static electricity.

Wool is usually used to make suits, pants, jackets, hats, fur, carpets and more.


  • Alpaca fur

Alpaca is an animal that has physical characteristics like Ilama, but the body of the alpaca animal has a smaller size. Alpaca is taken for its fiber and is used to make knitwear and sewing items such as sheep’s wool.

Alpaca fiber is a natural fiber that comes from alpaca. This fiber has a soft, luxurious, smooth, durable texture. Compared to wool fiber, alpaca fiber tends to be warmer, has no scales and does not contain lanolin which makes alpaca fiber hypoallergenic.

Naturally, alpaca fiber is water resistant and hard to burn. There are two types of alpaca fiber, namely Huacaya, which is alpaca that grows with soft, spongy fibers with natural wrinkles and Suri, which has wrinkles and is suitable to be used as a material for making woven fabrics.


  • Cow hide

Besides wool, one of the animal fibers that is often used is fiber from cowhide. Cowhide can be used to make various kinds of crafts. This is because cowhide is a durable and flexible material, so it is suitable for use as a raw material for making shoes, bags and others.

In addition to bags, shoes, wallets and others, cowhide is also used as a raw material for clothing, vehicle interiors, furniture, drums, and various other musical instruments.

The choice of cowhide is used because cowhide is a material that is quite flexible and durable when processed by tanning animal skins.

Currently, most of the tools and handicrafts are made from cow, goat, sheep and deer hides. These three types of animals were chosen because they will produce a softer material and have a fairly high price.

Apart from these three animals, it is not uncommon for kangaroo skin to be chosen because it has the characteristics of animal skin being flexible, light, strong and anti-abrasion. Kangaroo skin is often used as a material for whips to leather jackets for motorbike riders.

Kangaroo skin is also used to make boxing gloves, balls for soccer. Stingray skin is also often used as a material for katana handles or traditional Japanese swords.

That is an explanation of the meaning of fiber is one type of material in the form of component pieces that form a long and intact network. For Sinaumed’s who are interested in studying fiber types or other topics, they can find information by reading books.

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Author: Khansa