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What Is Polypropylene Fabric

July 28 , 2020

Polypropylene fabric is a term used to describe any textile product that is derived from the thermoplastic polymer polypropylene. This type of plastic is part of the polyolefin group, and it is non-polar and partially crystalline. Next to polyethylene, polypropylene is the second-most commonly produced plastic in the world, and it is more commonly used in packaging, straws, and other types of consumer and industrial goods than it is in textile production.


This type of plastic was originally developed by the American corporation Phillips Petroleum in 1951. Chemists Robert Banks and J. Paul Hogan were attempting to derive gasoline from propylene, and they accidentally created polypropylene. While this experiment was deemed a failure, it was quickly recognized that this new compound has the potential to be on par with polyethylene in many applications.



It wasn't until 1957, however, that polypropylene was made into a substance suitable for mass production. In 1954, the Italian chemist Giulio Natta and his German colleague succeeded in forming this substance into an isotactic polymer, and the Italian corporation Montecatini quickly started producing this substance for commercial and consumer use.


Polypropylene was originally marketed under the name "Moplen," and this name is still a registered trademark of the LyondellBasell corporation. However, it is much more common to find this substance referred to as polypropylene or "polypro" for short.


Deckchair with canopy and sling in polypropylene fabric in dove grey

As the use of polypropylene became more and more popular in a number of consumer and industrial applications, it was gradually discovered that this type of plastic also showed potential as a textile. Polypropylene fabric is a nonwoven textile, which means that it is made directly from a material without any need for spinning of weaving. The main benefit of polypropylene as a fabric is its moisture transfer abilities; this textile cannot absorb any moisture, and instead, moisture passes through polypropylene fabric entirely.


This attribute allows moisture that is exuded while wearing a polypropylene garment to evaporate much more quickly than it would with a moisture-retaining garment. Therefore, this fabric is popular in textiles that are worn close to the skin. However, polypro has a tendency to absorb and retain body odors when it is used for undergarments, and it also melts at relatively low temperatures. Molten polypro fabric can cause serious burns, and this issue also makes it impossible to wash this fabric at high temperatures.


Polypropylene yarn and polypropylene webbing is one of the lightest synthetic fibers in existence, and it is incredibly resistant to most acids and alkalis. In addition, the thermal conductivity of this substance is lower than that of most synthetic fibers, which means that it is ideally suited for cold weather wear.


Beige and White Basket Woven Polypropylene Upholstery Fabric


Furthermore, this fabric is highly resistant to abrasion, and it also resists insects and other pests. Due to its notable thermoplastic qualities, it's easy to mold polypro plastic into various shapes and forms, and it can be reformed through melting. This plastic is also not very susceptible to stress cracking.


However, polypro is notoriously hard to dye after it is manufactured, and it is also difficult to shape this fabric into different textures. This fabric is susceptible to UV damage, and it does not adhere well to latex or epoxies. Like every other synthetic textile, polypropylene fabric also has a significantly negative impact on the environment.

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