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Our Subrenat experts - engineers and sales representatives - have developed this glossary for you in order to group together all the terms commonly used in the textile industry. You will find here from A to Z all the terms you need to know to understand technical textiles and their markets.

Textiles definitions



Acrylic: Acrylic fiber is derived from hydrocarbon. It is known for its softness, lightness and resistance. Acrylic can be used alone or in combination with cotton, wool or another synthetic fiber.





Breathability: Capacity of a fabric to evacuate water vapor. It is measured by the rate of water vapor transfer through a fabric/membrane expressed in g/m²/24h. Also known as MVTR: Moisture Vaour Transmission Rate - MVP: Moisture Vapour Permeability.




Cotton : Cotton is a vegetable fiber that comes from the cotton plant. Cotton is the most produced natural fiber in the world. It is the most cultivated in China and India. Cotton is known for its absorbency, which is why it is used for household linen. Cotton is also breathable which makes it perfect for clothing or tent fabrics.


Cellulose: Cellulose is an abundant biopolymer commonly used as a raw material for paper products and cotton fabrics. Cellulose is used in particular for its thermal insulation and moisture protection properties which makes it interesting for building insulation.




Dimensional shrinkage : Phenomenon of variation in the size of a fabric after washing or treatment (elongation or shrinkage).




Elasticity: Ability of a material to deform under tension and return to its original shape once the tension is released.

Elastane: Elastane is a synthetic chemical material that comes from petroleum. It is mainly used for clothing. It is also known for its elasticity, which is why it is used for sportswear, including swimwear, but also for clothing in general.




Fiber: Fine, very long and flexible element that can be woven. Cotton, linen, wool and silk are natural fibers. Viscose and polyester are chemical fibers. 





Grammage: Weight of the fabric per unit area. Usually expressed in grams per square meter (g/m²), it can also be expressed in grams per linear meter (g/ml)




Hemp: Hemp fibers are used for textile production. Hemp fiber textile is considered environmentally friendly because hemp cultivation requires very little water. Hemp is very resistant and has antibacterial properties.




Impermeability: the ability of a material to prevent the penetration of water or liquids. It is measured in Schmerber.




Linen: Linen is a vegetable fiber. Very appreciated in clothing for its lightness, it wrinkles quickly.




Non-woven: Non-woven textile is a textile with randomly distributed fibers.


Needle punch: needle punch is a manufacturing process that involves cutting or punching holes in a material. Needle punch or perforated nonwovens are felted and very flexible, with a fibrous network of distinctive pores, which makes them suitable for filtration and drainage applications.




PLA or Polylactic Acid: PLA (or polylactic acid) is a polymer that can be derived from corn starch or hydrocarbon. The main characteristic of PLA is that it is biodegradable in industrial composting. It is used in many areas including the design of food packaging or textiles for agriculture.


Plush: Fabric with a soft, fluffy surface, like velvet, but with a long pile to achieve matte or shiny effects or to imitate fur.


Polyamide: Polyamide is derived from hydrocarbons. There are several types of polyamide, the most commonly used in textiles is polyamide 6-6, more commonly called nylon. Polyamide is known to be stretchy and resistant, which makes it perfect for tights and sportswear.


Polypropylene (PP): Polypropylene is derived from hydrocarbons and is used to create synthetic fibers that are thermo-regulating, very light, resistant and do not retain moisture. Polypropylene also has the advantage of being recyclable. All these characteristics make polypropylene an ideal fiber for various fields, especially for clothing and outdoor fabrics.


Polyester: Polyester is used for the manufacture of synthetic textile fibers. We speak of PES for the classic polyester and PET for the recycled polyester. Polyester fibers are the most produced synthetic fibers in the world, especially for the clothing industry because of their strength and lightness. They are also widely used for textiles for agriculture, geotextiles and industry in general.


PET or polyethylene terephthalate: PET is a synthetic material created from hydrocarbon or vegetable matter. It is often used for beverage packaging and cosmetic and food packaging. PET has the particularity of being 100% recyclable.




Silk: Silk comes from the silkworm, also known as the mulberry bombyx caterpillar. It is a prestigious natural fiber known primarily for its silky appearance and texture.


Spunbond: Spunbond is one of the most common and least expensive nonwoven manufacturing processes. It gets its name from the steps involved in its manufacture, which are the formation of threads from a plastic material, often polypropylene, (called "spun") and the consolidation of these threads (called "bond"). The main characteristics of spunbond nonwovens are their tear resistance, their tensile strength and their low price which makes them very popular in agrotextile.


Spunlace: Spunlace is a manufacturing process for nonwovens. The fibers are consolidated by high pressure water jets. Most spunlace products contain a variety of fibers: usually fibers with absorbent properties such as viscose and fibers that are very strong such as polyester. Due to its properties, spunlace is a nonwoven that offers, among other things, optimal resin absorption for liquid sealing systems.




Tensile strength: the ability of a material to withstand a tensile force without breaking.

Textile: A textile is a material made of fibers.




Velvet: Fabrics with a lustrous and soft surface, formed by short, upright, tightly packed hairs, created by cutting the hairs of the threads that make up the fabric and a matt, smooth surface. This fabric can be made of cotton, wool, silk, etc.


Viscose: Viscose is a plastic material of vegetable origin that does not come from petroleum. It is made from cellulose.




Wool: Natural fiber made from the fur of mammals such as sheep, goats or alpacas.

Woven: A woven textile is a textile in which the fibers are divided into threads.




Yarn: A continuous material formed by twisting long fibers and used in the manufacture of fabrics and clothing. It can be made of natural or synthetic materials.


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