Corn Fiber: A New Fiber on Horizon (Part-1)

Corn Fiber: A New Fiber on Horizon (Part-1)
Aditi Dhama
Satyam Fashion Institute, Noida, Delhi, India

Corn fiber is a comparatively new innovation in the textile industry. Cargill Inc. and The Dow Chemicals joined together to form Cargill Dow Polymers LLC, which developed corn fibre. Corn Fibre is also called Ingeo fibre. Corn is an agricultural product with large quantities of starch, which manufacturers extract from the plant fibers and break down into sugars that are then fermented and separated into polymers. At this point in the process, the corn fibers are paste-like substances which are then extruded into delicate strands that are cut, carded, combed, and spun into yarn. Aside from the chemical processes, the rest of the process is similar to what is done with wool.
Fig: Corn
Corn fiber is a manmade fiber derived entirely from annually renewable resources. These fibers have the performance advantages often associated with synthetic materials, and complementing properties of natural products such as cotton and wool. Corn fibre is composed of lactic acid, which is produced by converting corn starch into sugar & then fermenting it to get lactic acid. Lactic acid can be considered a commodity chemical sleeping giant, with advantages including:
  1. It can be made from biomass.
  2. It has both an hydroxyl group and a carboxylic acid group.
  3. It is optically active.
The fabric made from corn fibre is easy to care for, cheap and very comfortable to wear. Moreover, it is stain-resistant and UV resistant. This fabric can be used for several applications such as readymade apparel, diapers, bedding, carpets and upholstery. Moreover, the production of this fabric requires the use of less fuel, and is hence environment-friendly as well.
Fig: Corn fiber
The process for manufacturing the polymer used to make corn fiber on an industrial scale centers on the fermentation, distillation and polymerization of a simple plant sugar, maize dextrose.

The production and use of corn fiber means less greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are the chief contributor to global climate change. Compostability and chemical recyclability mean that under the right conditions and with the right handling, the complete life cycle of production, consumption, disposal and re-use is neatly closed.

The fiber comes entirely from corn, is fully eco-compatible and has exceptional qualitative features. The properties associated with the corn fiber are:
  1. Corn fiber is available in both spun and filament forms in a wide variety of counts from micro denier for the finest lightest fabrics to high counts for more robust applications.
  2. It is derived from naturally occurring plant sugars. When products come to the end of their useful life, they can be returned to the earth, unlike petroleum based products, which can only be disposed of through thermal recycling, physical recycling or landfill.
  3. Corn fiber balances strength and resilience with comfort, softness and drape in textiles. Corn also uses no chemical additives or surface treatments and amazingly, is naturally flame retardant.
  4. It is reported to have outstanding moisture management properties and low odor retention, giving the wearer optimum comfort and confidence.
  5. Corn fiber filament is said to have a subtle luster and fluid drape with a natural hand offering a new material to stimulate creativity.
  6. Corn fiberfill allows outerwear garment makers to offer a complete story and a more environmentally friendly alternative to polyester and nylon combinations in padded garments.
  7. It reportedly outperforms other synthetics in resistance to UV light, retaining strength color and properties overtime.
  8. Easy care, independent wash and dry cleaning tests have shown that the Corn fiber garment tested can be laundered using standard washing and drying machines.
  9. Independent testing has confirmed Corn fibers have superior or equal performance to polyester in key active wear applications.
  1. High melting point.
  2. High crystallization degree and good clarity.
  3. The fiber also has the high strength which is same as normal poly fiber, so its use is very abroad.
  4. The Corn fiber has the characteristics of lustrous silk, has excellent hand touch and brightness and so on. Garments in corn fiber reportedly demonstrated good soil release, quick drying and show excellent after-wash appearance
  1. The Corn fiber textile is too rigid and frail. 
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