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Acrylic circular knitted fabrics are produced from a synthetic fiber: acrylic.

Like all synthetic fibers, it was created in order to replace a specific type of natural fiber, with the general objective of reducing production costs. As such, acrylic circular knitted fabrics were created as an alternative to those made out of wool.

However, it is possible to mix acrylic circular knitted fabrics with many other types of fibers, in different proportions.

The same company responsible for the development of nylon and polyester was also responsible for the invention of the acrylic fiber, from which the circular knitted fabric is conceived. When the American company DuPont launched it on the market during the 1940s, the public understood it just as another natural step for the company.

Yet, the studies that allowed for its creation began earlier in the 1930s, in Germany. It was at this point that the polymerization of acrylonitrile took place for the first time. Polymerization is a fundamental process for the creation of synthetic fibers.

Even so, it was only after a decade that its large-scale production became economically viable.

And only in the late 1940s did the acrylic fiber used in circular knitted fabrics, began to be produced. Its acceptance by the public was somewhat atypical. One of the potential reasons may be the lack of novelty. After all, for consumers, the news of a synthetic alternative was little: both polyamide and polyester had already caused surprise and captured their attention.

After silk and cotton, the replacement of wool with a new synthetic substitute was anything but surprising.

It took a while, but over time, acrylic circular knitted fabrics came to be recognized for their texture, durability, and ease of treatment. Today, acrylic circular knitted fabrics find countless applications, from the textile industry to the toy industry.

What are Acrylic Circular Knitted Fabrics?

Acrylic circular knitted fabrics are a type of circular knitted fabric composed of acrylic fiber. The invention had as its main purpose the replacement or the simulation of wool, a type of natural fiber. Thus, acrylic circular knitted fabrics are mainly applied in the same way wool is.

There are several industries in which these can be used. Particularly in the textile industry for the creation of garments more suitable for winter and protection from the cold.

Although the acrylic circular knitted fabrics mostly simulate wool, it is possible to change its composition and production methods in order to bring it closer to other types, such as cotton fiber.


Composition of the acrylic circular knitted fabrics

Acrylic fibers are created from a polymer called polyacrylonitrile, whose monomer is acrylonitrile, discovered in the 1930s in Germany.

For an acrylic circular knitted fabric to be effectively considered as such, it must be composed of 85% acrylonitrile.

If this percentage is somewhere between 85% and at least 35%, the fiber will be considered modacrylic - also made up of acrylonitrile, albeit in smaller proportions. 

These synthetic fibers give the acrylic circular knitted fabrics their wool-like properties: they are very warm and very soft. As they are synthetic fibers, they also derive from fossil fuels. Its production process is complex and takes place after polymerization which happens by applying great pressure and energy on the acrylonitrile monomers.

This originates a viscous solution, neither liquid nor solid. The solution is then forced through a type of special equipment called a spinneret. Spinnerets are fundamental when producing all types of synthetic fibers and, therefore, the same happens when creating acrylic circular knitted fabrics.

They contain holes and specific shapes that force the viscous solution created at the time of polymerization to mold itself as desired, in order to obtain the same type of characteristics of the natural fiber that the new synthetic fiber intends to simulate – thinner or thicker, more or less hollow, etc.

After passing through the spinnerets, what comes out on the other side is already in the form of a synthetic fiber. However, before originating the acrylic circular knitted fabrics, it is still necessary to give these fibers their final shape. There are several methods for this.

Like spinnerets, the process which is chosen here also helps the synthetic fiber achieve the desired characteristics.

In the case of acrylic fibers, there are two methods: wet-spinning or dry-spinning. After using one of these two, the fibers are then further chemically treated. Here, the fiber from the acrylic circular mesh undergoes a treatment that allows it to acquire one of the main characteristics of wool: thermal insulation.


Where to buy acrylic circular knitted fabrics?

Acrylic circular knitted fabrics have the same texture and appearance as their wool counterpart. They are lightweight, very soft to the touch, and very warm. Furthermore, they can resist water, stains, odors, and mildew.

However, increasing awareness of environmental problems has led to a decline in its production. That being said, China remains the leading producing country, representing more than 30% of the production of this fiber worldwide. On the other hand, the fastest growing market is South America.

At ITJV,  acrylic circular knitted fabrics are only available through catalog requests and sample validation.


This text was written and published in 2021

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