Common synthetic materials are nylon, acrylic, polyester, carbon fiber, rayon and spandex. Synthetic materials are made from chemicals and are usually based on polymers. They are stronger than natural and regenerated materials.
In addition to being durable, synthetic materials offer consumer-friendly features, such as stretchable, waterproof and stain resistant construction. Natural fibers are sensitive to elements and tend to break down over time. This is because natural products are biodegradable. Natural fibers are also prone to damage from moths and beetles that feast on cotton, wool and silk. Synthetic materials are immune to these pests and do not break down when exposed to light, water or oil. In some cases, synthetic materials are viewed as environmentally friendly because producing natural materials, such as cotton and wool, can be resource intensive.
Synthetic materials are made from synthesized polymers or small molecules. The compounds used to make these materials come from petroleum-based chemicals or petrochemicals. Differing chemical compounds are used to produce different types of fibers. Synthetic materials account for about half of all materials with applications in every field and textile technology. There are several methods of manufacturing synthetic materials, but the most common is the melt-spinning process. This process utilizes heat to permeate the shape and dimensions of the synthetic fibers or materials.