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Natural fiber a form which a class of hair-like materials where occur continuous filaments or in
discrete elongated pieces which is similar to pieces of thread. The source of natural fibers obtain
from an animal, vegetable or mineral source and convertible into non-woven fabrics such as felt or
paper. The natural fiber can be classified according to their origin.

For the vegetable fibers, the main components is cellulose. Several of this fibers serve in the
manufacture of paper and cloth. The examples include cotton, jute, flax, ramie, sial and hemp. The
vegetables fibers can be categorized into several types which is seed fiber, leaf fiber, bast fiber or
skin fiber, fruit fiber and stalk fiber. The seed fibers collected from seed or seed cases. For the
examples include cotton and kapok. For the leaf fiber, it collected from leaves such as sisal and

The bast or skin fibers are collected from the skin or bast which is surround the stem of the
plant source. It is have higher tensile strenh than the other fibers. Moreover, the fibers are used for
a durable yarn, fabric, packaging, and paper. For the examples are flax, jute, kenaf, industrial hemp,
ramie, soybean fiber and banana fibers. The fruit fibers are collected from the fruit of the plant like
coconut (coir) fiber. Then, for stalk fibers are obtain from stalks of the plant.

For the examples are strawa of wheat, rice, barley, and other crops including bamboo and
grass. The most natural fibers which is widely used are cotton, flax and hemp, sisal, jute, kenaf, and
coconut. The hemp fibers are mainly used for ropes and aerofoils because of their high suppleness
and resistance within an aggressive environment. Commonly, the hemp fibers are used by the
heating and sanitary industries to make seals.

Other than that, the animal fibers are made up of proteins which is fur except for silk. The fur
serves as the protective epidermal covering of animals. The animal hair which is wool or hairs are
taken from the animals or hairy mammals such as sheep wool, goat hair (cashmere or mohair),
alpaca hair, and horse hair. The silk fibers are collected from dried saliva of the bugs or insects during
the preparation of cocoons such as silk filaments extruded by the silk worms.

Furthermore, minerals fibers also one of the branches of natural fibers. The mineral fibers
are obtained from minerals sources used in the natural occurring from slight modifications. The
minerals fibers can be classified into some categories such as asbestos, ceramic and metal fibers.
The asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally in fibrous form suvh as serpentine and amphiboles.
The ceramic fibers which is glasss fibers, aluminium oxide and boron carbide. For the metal fibers
are aluminium fibers.

The natural fiber usually tend to yellow when exposed to sunlight and moisture. Then, usually
natural fiber affect by microbial decomposition including mildew and rot. The cellulosic fibers are
decomposed by aerobic bacteria which live only in oxygen and fungi. The cellulose mildews and

decomposes rapidly at high humidity and high temperatures especially in the absence of light.
However, wool and silk are also affect by bacteria and molds. In order to protect against both
microbial damage and insect attacks, a chemical modification of the fiber substrate which modern
developments are applied to allow the treatment of natural fibers and make the fibers immune with
the damage.

In this report, the chosen materials that being select is sheep wool as the water resistant
application. The wool usually used as the water resistant and not waterproof application. As we know,
water resistant for fabrics, it’s repel the water. Then, for the water resistant application the water will
seep through the fabric more slowly than other materials like cotton. For the wool it can hold up to
20 percent of its weight in water before it will end up wet.

The waterproof means usually the fabrics doesn’t soak up water at all. It can be completely
submerged into water and still dry, the waterproof fabrics usually made up by synthetic fibers but
looks like wool. Wool being selected because of the water resistance application. The unsung
property of wool which is highly water resistance that untreated wools still have the fatty lanolin from
the original animal that can be almost waterproof.



Natural Fiber from animal become one of the major sources of natural fiber application for the
production of fabrics from natural fiber. Wool and silk are examples of type of fabric that is obtained
from the natural fiber of animals. Wool is the textile fiber obtained from the hairy animals like sheep,
goat and even rabbit. Wool obtained from the sheep is the one that is widely used as it is available
and raised all round the world like Middle East, Asia, Central Europe and North America. Wool consist
of protein with a trace amount of lipids. The raw structure of the wool fibre using an optical microscope
is seen as a thin mantle (1 to 2 cells thick) of cuticle cells surrounding the inner bulk of cortical
material. For some thicker fibres (i.e. >35 µm) a central core of vacuolated medulla cells is observed
within the cortex (Vidwans, 1994). The microstructure of the wool fiber can be divided into three main
parts, which are cuticle, cortex and medulla (Hock, Ramsay, & Harris, 1941). These main parts or
the components can be further divided into more specific parts, such as: -

- Cuticle: The layer of overlapping epithelial cell’s around the wool fiber. There are three
cuticles, which are epi-cuticle, exo-cuticle and endo-cuticle.
 Epi cuticle: The epi cuticle is the outermost layer that protect the wool fiber.
 Exo cuticle: The overlapping epithelial cells
 Endo cuticle: The intermediate linking layer, bonding the epithelial cell of the cortex
of the fiber.
- Cortex: The core of the fiber, forms about 90% of the fiber volume. It consists of uncountable
spindle shape. Cortex can be further divided into ortho and para cortex.
 Ortho cortex: Larger in size and absorb more dye than para cortex
 Para cortex: Smaller in size compared to ortho cortex.
- Medulla: Consist of hallow space running lengthwise through the centre with coarser

Figure 2.1: Microstructure of sheep’s wool


Staple strength is the measures of the force that is required to break the wool staple based on its
specific thickness (kilotex) (Thompson & Agricultural, 1998). The unit of measurement for staple
strength Newtons per kilotex (Nkt). The overall formula involved in the calculation of the staple
strength is that the force required is divided by the average linear density or thickness of the whole
staple. Thus, the factor that affecting the staple strength is the density or the thickness of the staple.
Other than that, there are other fiber and staple characteristics that play a part in the phenotypic
differences in staple strength, such as: -

- The variation in the diameter along the fibers (Bigham et al. 1973).
- The intrinsic strength of individual fibers.
- The difference in length and extensibility between fibers (Prins & Pierlot, 2010).
- The ratio of discontinuous or shed fibers in the staple cross-section.

The measurement of the staple strength of the wool is important as it has close relationship
with the process involved in the industry in term of the use of the wool for the production activity.
Moreover, staple strength also has the correlations with some of the important faults in the wool
fleece that occur in the industry (Bigham et al. 1973).


Intrinsic strength is the stress required to extend a fiber by specified amount. Intrinsic strength of
sheep wool fiber or any other fibers are independent to the diameter of the fiber (Schlink, 2009).

Intrinsic strength of the sheep wool does not increase or decrease with the diameter of the wool but
varied based on the sheep breed (Thompson & Agricultural, 1998). However, the intrinsic strength
relationship with the staple strength are still questionable.


The longitudinal mechanical properties of single wool fibers can be obtained by comparing the load
extension curves. The load-extension behaviour of wool shows the element of viscosity and elasticity
of the wool, which can be called as viscoelastic. However, the load required to breakdown a single
fibre is connected to the cross-sectional area at the break point of the wool fiber. Therefore, the
mechanical properties the load is normalized to the force. Thus, the normalized force is referred is
stress and the extension as strain (Baxter, Hastings, Law, & Glass, 2008). The stress-strain curve
for a single sheep wool fibers can be divided into three difference regions which are Hookean region,
Yield region and Post-yield region.

Figure 2.2: Stress-strain curve for a wool fiber tested in water at 20ºC

(Thompson & Agricultural, 1998)

There is no significant difference on the mechanical properties of the microstructure of the

wool fiber, cortex and cuticle. The longitudinal stress-strain behaviour of an untreated sheep wool is
affected by the relative humidity (%RH), temperature, rate of straining and media in which the fiber
is extended.


Sheep wool has the natural ability that can repel water. The fiber has the existence of hard, water-
repellent outer layer, cuticle that surround each hollow fiber and overlap between each other. Cuticle
cell provide a though external to the fiber, and thus protecting them from damage. This cuticle cells
have a wax coating that make the wool to repel the water. However, the waxy coating, do allow the
absorption of water vapour. Thus, the wool fiber can easily absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture
without feeling damp of clammy ((Grădinaru), 2017). The moisture can be referred to the sweat that
is produced by human body, where the fabric from wool fiber can absorb sweat without making the
person feels uncomfortable. This makes the sheep wool to be naturally shower-proof and does not
get stain easily as the spill does not soak in easily.


Figure 2.3: White wool fiber

The fiber is wavy, crimpy and has scales on its surface. The appearance of wool varies,
depending on the breed of sheep. While some fibers can be having finer scales, others can
have crimp and coarser scales. Wool fiber is susceptible to heat and has a felting property,
caused due to the scales on the surface. There are two common properties for natural

1. Physical Properties
2. Chemical Properties


Specific Gravity 1.31

Length 35 to 250 mm
The color of wool fiber could be white,
near white, brown and black
Flame reaction Odor of burnt horn
Luster of course fiber is higher than fine
13-16% , very absorbent, decrease
Moisture Regain strength when wet, seem warmth, will
shrink in washing
Electrostatic reaction: Highly electrostatic at dry conditions

Standard elongation is 25 – 35% and 25 –
Elongation at break:
50% in wet condition
Feel on Hand: Soft
Abrasion resistance: Good.
Dimensional stability: Bad (For tendency of felting)
The fibers become discolored and develop
Effect of Sun Light:
a harsh feel
Wool is the weakest of the natural textile
fibers and strengthened by the used of ply
yarns. A hard twister two ply yarn may be
regarded as an assurance of durability.
Depending upon the quality of wool, the
fiber may be stretched from 25-30% of its
Durability: natural length. Elasticity reduces the
danger of tearing under tension and
contributes to the free body movement.
Resilience: Has high degree of resilience.
Wool become harsh at 100°c begins to
decompose at slightly higher temperature.
Effect of Heat:
It has plastic quality which helps to have
shape at melting temperature.


Decompose completely when contact with hot

Effect of Acids concentrated sulphuric acid. It is general
resistant to mineral acids of all strength even
at high temperature though nitric acid tend to
cause damage by oxidation.
The chemical nature of wool keratin is such
Effects of Alkali that it is particularly sensitive to alkaline
substance, Wool will dissolve incaustic soda
solutions that would have little effects on
cotton. Strong alkaline does not affect wool.
Effect of Organic Solvent Does not affect in organic solvent

Wool fiber could be dyed by basic dye, direct
Dyeing Ability dye and acid dye


Wool can be woven into thick fabrics with

Appearance a deep, rich texture. It can make anything
from very fine and silky threads to thick,
coarse yarns. The resulting fabrics can
range from thick, hairy, and coarse to
extremely lightweight and smooth to the
Warmth Wool holds heat in extremely well. Even a thin
wool jacket or sweater adds a lot of warmth
to you, especially when movement and
exercise are keeping your core temperature
up. Warm-weather “tropical” wools have
to be woven deliberately loose from very fine
fibers to keep it from doing too good of a job
insulating the wearer.
Water Resistance Wool is also highly water resistant. Untreated
wools that still have the fatty lanolin from
the original animal can be almost waterproof,
and even fine wools give you some protection.
Wool fibers are highly absorbent and can soak
up around 20% of their weight in water before
it starts to leak through. Sailors and fishermen
in extremely wet and cold climates have
traditionally worn tightly-woven sweaters of
raw wool for their protection.


Sheep wool is chosen as the main focus to be explain details more in advantages and disadvantages.
Basically, in this part water resistance of sheep wool will be more highlight in order to emphasize the
good outcome of sheep wool since the sheep wool is one of the fiber that made of in naturally. A
short of view about water resistance is normally known as something that does not allow water
to pass through it easily or is not easily damaged by water. Water resistance could be applied in the
sheep wool based on its properties that versatile and durable.

Obviously that sheep wool could be act as water resistance based on the quality that
differentiate wool fibers from hair or fur is the presence of a hard, water-repellent outer layer that
surrounds each hollow fiber, overlapping like shingles on a roof. The fiber's core could absorb up to
30% of its weight in moisture vapor without becoming damp or clammy, while the hard outer layer
protects against outside liquid moisture and from that water is repelled.

There are many advantages of sheep wool that could use which are the sheep wool could
resist wrinkles. This wool spring back immediately when it stretching. The sheep wool is good in
resist soiling which means fiber could form a complex matting. Obviously, sheep wool also retains
its shape since resilient fibers return to original size even though after washing. This natural fiber
does not support combustion due to its resists flames. From that also sheep wool is clearly durable
because of multi-part fibers resist wear and tear. Sheep wool sheds water since it can repel moisture
and normally this sheep wool is comfortable in all seasons and it definitely keep a layer of air next to
the skin. This sheep wool is really warm, soft, durable and versatile. This make sheep wool is really
capable for water resistance.

Besides that, the unique of this sheep wool sometimes have flaws. This sheep wool will be
affected by moths. It also shrinks with heat and moisture. It requires special care and dry cleaning
due to its special characteristics. The sheep wool is result scratchy on skin and it is weaken happen
when it get wet and it also harmed by bleach and perspiration (The National, 2014).


Wool’s unique cellular structure gives it a lot of desirable properties. Wool fibers have a unique
surface structure of overlapping scales which is called cuticle cells. The cuticle cells anchor the fiber
in the sheep’s skin. Wool’s surface is very different to typical synthetic fibers, which have a very
smooth surface. The exposed edges of the cuticle cells point towards the tip of the fiber, creating a
jagged edge. (Rippon, 2003) This allows fibers to slip over one another easily in one direction but
not the other, giving wool the ability to felt. Felt is created when wool fibers are agitated in water.
They slip over one another and the scales interlock, preventing the fibre from returning to its original
shape. The process can be controlled to create very dense fabrics such as felt and wool blanket and
jacket fabric, but can also be caused unintentionally during laundering and ruin a garment. (Simpson,

Figure 2.4: The sheep wool as water resistant

Water resistance is one of the most favourable characteristics of sheep wool. Goods made
from wool are naturally water repellent. The fiber surface of wool is water repellent. (Johnson, 2003)
The cuticle cells provide a tough exterior, protecting the fibers from damage. This is because the
surface of wool has a very thin waxy, lipid coating chemically bonded to the surface. (Rippon, 2003)
The bonded layer extends over the overlapping scales on the surface of the fibers and cannot easily
be removed by scouring, washing or processing. A consequence of this surface layer is that wool
fibers have a naturally low energy surface compared to most other textile fibers. The surface energy
of wool is proved that lower than cotton, nylon or polyester and is comparable with the hydrophobic
surface of polypropylene. This means that water droplets touched lightly on the surface of wool will
bead and roll off before being absorbed into the fabric. This allows time for liquid spills to be wiped
from a wool fabric before they can cause permanent staining. Further protection can be provided by
application of a fluorochemical finish which reduces the surface energy of the fiber further.
Fluorochemicals impart resistance to water and oily-based stains and are extensively used for
corporate apparel and upholstery fabrics that are difficult to wash. (Simpson, 2002)


In this findings, the properties of warmth and water resistance are analysed to be more important for
wool to be a widely used natural fibers.

The cuticle cells of wools have a waxy coating, making wool water resistant but at the same
time still allowing the absorption of water vapour. The water-repellent surface makes wool garments
naturally shower-proof and also reduces staining because spills do not soak in easily. The low
surface energy of wool also reduces the degree of dry-soil pick-up compared to most other fibres.
This is particularly important for producing floor coverings. An important aspect of appearance
retention for apparel goods is the ability of a fabric to release soil during laundering or dry-cleaning.
It is well known that soil removal is generally more difficult from hydrophobic fibres such as polyester
and can lead to dulling of fabrics after washing and dry-cleaning. This phenomenon of ‘greying’ is
due to accumulation of dry and oily soil on the surface of wool. Although the surface of wool is
hydrophobic under ambient conditions, the fiber readily absorbs moisture and swells in the wash to
give a hydrophilic surface that facilities soil release. The combination of wool’s natural ability of water
resistance and soil resistance are important in producing wool goods that are stain resistant and
easy-clean with enhanced appearance retention throughout their product life cycle.

Wool’s long-standing reputation for warmth can be attributed to its high natural bulk and
elasticity, which together give wool knitwear as excellent insulating characteristics in a package that
is light in weight, feels soft against the skin and has outstanding moisture buffering, a combination
that cannot be duplicated by any other fiber. The physical property of textiles responsible for warmth
is thermal insulation. Heat flows through textiles at a rate determined by the difference in temperature
between the two faces of the textile and the thermal insulation of the textile itself. The human body
must maintain a central or core temperature within a narrow range around 35°C in order to sustain
life. In cold conditions, the difference in temperature between the body and the surroundings can be
quite large. We wear clothing to reduce the rate of heat loss to a level that enables our internal control
mechanism to maintain a safe core temperature, putting on and taking off garments as necessary.
Textiles consist largely of air, which is a much better insulator than fibres, so in the absence of
substantial air movement thermal insulation is largely a function of fabric thickness.

There is another aspect to wool’s warmth that is unique amongst insulating materials and
very relevant to winter wear. Wool garments actively generate heat when taken from warm indoor
environments into the cold and wet of the outdoors in winter. The effect is most noticeable in the first
five or ten minutes after stepping outside but it will last for several hours. This quality can be attributed
to a large and rapid re-adjustment of moisture vapour content within the wool fibre when taken from
a warm, dry indoor environment to cold, moist outdoor environment. The heat energy released is not
readily obvious to a wearer. This is because of the fact that it causes a steady rise in temperature of
the whole garment rather than a rapid change near the skin, which would be needed to stimulate

skin temperature sensors. However, it actively reduces the thermal shock on the body during the
transition from indoors to outdoors.


In the nutshell, natural fiber can be gained in either plant or animal. The chosen material of natural
fiber in this report was wool that can be get from sheep’s wool. The significance application of this
type of wool is the resistance ability of the material toward water. There are a little bit of difference
between water resistance and water proof. The waterproof means usually the fabrics doesn’t soak
up water at all. It can be completely submerged into water and still dry, For the water resistant, the
water will seep through the fabric more slowly than other materials like cotton. The waterproof fabrics
usually made up by synthetic fibers but looks like wool.

In depth analysis for wool properties have been made in this report. This report focused on
the properties of warmth and water resistance of the wool. For the properties of the water resistance,
the cuticle cells of wools have a waxy coating, making wool water resistant and at the same time, it
reduces staining because spills do not soak in easily. Besides, wool also have ability to release soil
during laundering or dry-cleaning. The combination of wool’s natural ability of water resistance and
soil resistance are important in producing wool goods that are stain resistant and easy-clean with
enhanced appearance retention throughout their product life cycle. For the properties of warmth,
wool’s warmth can be attributed to its high natural bulk and elasticity. Besides, wool have thermal
insulation. Wool garments actively generate heat when taken from warm indoor environments into
the cold and wet of the outdoors in winter.

At the end of this report, it can be proved that wool is one of the natural fiber. The ability of
wool as water resistant and thermal insulator make wool is widely used in textile industry. The
combination of wool’s natural ability of water resistance and soil resistance are important in producing
wool goods that are stain resistant and easy-clean with enhanced appearance retention throughout
their product life cycle. The wool usually used as the water resistant and not waterproof application.
As we know, water resistant for fabrics, it’s repel the water. Then, for the water resistant application
the water will seep through the fabric more slowly than other materials like cotton. For the wool it can
hold up to 20 percent of its weight in water before it will end up wet.


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