Synthetic fibers or synthetic fibers (in British English; see spelling variations) are fibres produced by humans via chemical synthesis, in contrast to natural fibers which are directly created from living organisms like trees (like cotton) or fur from animals. They result from vast research conducted by scientists in order to replicate natural animal and plant fibers. They are produced by extruding fiber-forming substances through spinnerets, creating the fiber like Aluminium extrusion. These are known as synthetic or artificial fibers. The word “polymer” is derived from a Greek prefix “poly” which means “many” and suffix “mer” which means “single pieces”. (Note: each single piece of polymer is classified as a monomer).
The first synthetic fiber was glass. Joseph Swan invented one of the first artificial fibers in the early 1880s which is now described as semisynthetic, in the precise sense. The fiber was extracted from a cellulose liquid, created by chemically altering the fiber contained in tree bark. The synthetic fiber produced through this process was chemically comparable in its applications potential with the carbon filament Swan had developed for the incandescent bulb but Swan quickly realized how the ability of this fiber could revolutionize textile manufacturing. In 1885, he unveiled fabrics made from synthesized material during the International Inventions Exhibition in London.
Another step undertaken by Hilaire de Chardonnet Hilaire de Chardonnet, who was a French industrialist and engineer who created the first artificial silk, which he referred to as “Chardonnet silk”. In the late 1870s Chardonnet was working alongside Louis Pasteur on a remedy to the epidemic ruining French silkworms. Inability to eliminate an accident in the darkroom resulted in Chardonnet’s discovery of Nitrocellulose, a possible replacement for real silk. Recognizing the importance of such an invention, Chardonnet began to develop his own product, which presented in the Paris Exhibition of 1889. Chardonnet’s material was extremely inflammable and was later substituted with other, more stable substances.