Olefin fiber

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A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of ethylene, propylene or other olefin units, except amorphous (noncrystalline) polyolefins qualifying as a rubber fiber (Federal Trade Commission definition). The process for making polyethylene fibers was developed in Germany by Karl Ziegler in 1954. In 1957, Giulio Natta (Montecatini, Italy) produced polypropylene fibers. Olefin fibers are lightweight, smooth and white with a slightly waxy feel. They are resistant to wear, creases, acids, alkalis, moisture, fungi and insects. Olefin fibers slowly degrade in sunlight and can be stained by oils. Olefin fibers are used to make protective clothing, carpeting, artificial grass, upholstery fabrics, and stay-dry clothing.

See Polyethylene, and Polypropylene.

Synonyms and Related Terms

olefin fibre; Olefane; Dynafilm [U.S. Industrial Chemical]; Tenite [Eastman Chemical]; Merkalon; Prolene [Industrial Rayon]; Gerfil [G.F.Chemical]; Herculon®; Tyvek® [DuPont]; Typar; Durel®; Marvess®; Polycrest®


  • Shrinks at 75C (polyethylene), 120C (polypropylene).
  • Burns with a heavy, sooty, waxy smoke.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in perchloroethylene (do not dry-clean).
  • Resistant to strong acids and alkalis.
  • Cross sections = circular or elliptical.
  • Tenacity = 1.5-8.0 g/denier
  • Moisture regain = 0.1%
  • Elongation = 20-80%
  • Density = 0.90-0.96 gm/cc


Properties of Synthetic Fibers

Resources and Citations

  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • Rosalie Rosso King, Textile Identification, Conservation, and Preservation, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ, 1985
  • Marjory L. Joseph, Introductory Textile Science, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Fort Worth, TX, 1986
  • Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles, Phyllis G.Tortora, Robert S. Merkel (eds.), Fairchild Publications, New York City, 7th edition, 1996
  • J.Gordon Cook, Handbook of Textile Fibres:II Man-made Fibres, Merrow Publishing Co. , Durham, England
  • Website address 1 Comment: Fibersource.com
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p.636