Polylactic Acid Fiber
First Commercial PLA Fiber Production: 2002, Cargill Dow
Current PLA Fiber Producers: Fiber Innovation Technology, Inc. (FIT); O’Mara Incorporated (Filtex); Palmetto Synthetics, LLC
Federal Trade Commission Definition for PLA Fiber: A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is composed of at least 85% by weight of lactic acid ester units derived from naturally occurring sugars. (Complete FTC Fiber Rules here).
Basic Principles of PLA Fiber Production: PLA fibers typically are made using lactic acid as the starting material for polymer manufacture. The lactic acid comes from fermenting various sources of natural sugars. These sugars can come from annually renewable agricultural crops such as corn or sugar beets.
PLA Fiber Characteristics and Uses: The fundamental polymer chemistry of PLA allows control of certain fiber properties and makes the fiber suitable for a wide variety of technical textile fiber applications, especially apparel and performance apparel applications such as:
- Low moisture absorption and high wicking, offering benefits for sports and performance apparel and products
- Low flammability and smoke generation
- High resistance to ultra violet (UV) light, a benefit for performance apparel as well as outdoor furniture and furnishings applications
- A low index of refraction, which provides excellent color characteristics
- Lower specific gravity, making PLA lighter in weight than other fibers
- In addition to coming from an annually renewable resource base PLA fibers are readily melt-spun, offering manufacturing advantages that result in greater consumer choice
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