Fabrics are the most complicated of the materials discussed here because the weave of the fabric stresses the fibers in different ways and sophisticated analysis is required to determine the stresses. In order to simplify the way fabrics are analyzed we are only going to consider individual fibers. If the tension in a single fiber due to a specified loading can be determined, then a fabric can be selected to meet the fiber design strength. Therefore this section is going to focus on fibers and their properties. However, for an even easier and more practical approach, design to failure stresses found from manufacturers' working load data and use appropriate factors of safety.

Table F1 - Common Fibers and their Applications


Resistant to



Cotton Age, heat, washing, wear solvents, alkalies, insects Almost all textile uses
Jute   Sacking, bale wrapping, curtains, bags
Kenaf   Rope, twine, carpet, canvas, bags
Hemp   Rope, sacking, canvas
Henequen   Rope, twine, canvas, bags
Ramie   Canvas

Manufactured (man-made or synthetic)

Polyacrylonitrile (acrylic) Dilute acids and alkalies, solvents, insects, mildew, weather Outdoor fabrics, carpets, knits, blankets
Polyamide Alkalies, molds, solvents, moths Tire cord, carpet, upholstery, apparel, belting, hose, tents
Polyester Weak acids and alkalies, solvents, oils, mildew, moths Apparel, curtains, rope, twine, sailcloth, belting, fiberfill
Polyethylene(olefin low density) Alkalies, acids (except nitric), insects, mildew Outdoor fabrics, filter fabrics
Polyethylene(olefin high density) Alkalies, acids (except nitric), insects, mildew Rope, twine, fishnets
Polypropylene (olefin) Alkalies, acids, insects, mildew Rope, twine, outdoor fabrics, carpets, upholstery
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) Acids, alkalies, insects, mildew, oils Wide range of industrial and apparel uses, rope, work clothes, fish nets
Polyvinylidene chloride Acids, most alkalies, alcohol, insects, mildew, weather Outdoor fabrics, insect screens, curtains, upholstery, carpet, work clothes

Compiled from several sources including the CRC Handbook


Back to main Materials Page

Please submit any questions or comments concerning this website to njsalamon@psu.edu.