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Nonwovens by FDI

Natural vs. Synthetic Fibers for Nonwoven Fabrics

Posted by Kyle Lawrence


Manufacturers have a choice of materials for the nonwoven fabrics they incorporate into final products.  It’s important to consider all the features and benefits of synthetic vs. natural fibers before making a final selection for nonwoven products. But how do you make the choice? Well, that all depends on the fabric characteristics you need for your final product.

First, you need to understand what types of fiber choices you have.  The majority of manufacturers producing nonwovens with natural fibers choose cotton. While this choice is often selected for its softness and purity, cotton production (and associated costs) is tied to weather and agricultural trends.  

Synthetic, oil-based fibers are an alternative to cotton.  Polypropylene, polyester and rayon (viscose) are three main synthetic choices for nonwoven fabrics.  All are solid players in bedding, fiberfill, construction, roofing, automotive and filtration industry applications. 



Natural fibers

Synthetic Fibers

Size flexibility and consistency

All fibers not the same length.  Diameters vary from 3 to 8 micronaires.

Cut to any desired length.  Can be made to almost any denier.


Overall a weaker fiber but can be strengthened by blending with synthetic fibers.

High tensile strength.


Temperature resistance

Not very subjective to melting but can burn if not chemically treated.

Can melt at higher temperatures but can be chemically treated for flame retardancy.


Highly absorbent.

Can be manufactured to be absorbent for specific applications.


Prone to shrinkage and stretching.

Resistant to crease, stretching and shrinkage.


Grown naturally.

Can adapt to use less material which ultimately requires less energy.


Whether you opt for natural or synthetic fibers in your end-use product, consider the application and the characteristics your nonwoven must have.  Synthetic fibers are often more adaptable than natural fibers but, ultimately, the final product application should lead you to your final decision. Discuss your options with your nonwoven manufacturer to determine the best raw materials for your product.



Nonwoven Textiles Whitepaper

Topics: General Nonwovens

Nonwoven Manufacturing Is Our Business

We're interested in finding solutions for manufacturing problems in the nonwoven arena.  We view challenges as an opportunity to assist a manufacturing partner when no one else can.  If you're looking for tips on the nonwoven manufacturing business, you've come to the right place.

Things to consider:

  • More products are using nonwoven fabrics than ever
  • As technology improves, so does nonwoven manufacturing
  • You should always partner with a manufacturer interested in solutions

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