Abaca Fiber (Manila Hemp) | Uses/Application of Abaca Fiber

Abaca Fiber:
Abaca is a bust fiber. The abaca fiber is extracted from the stalk of the plant. Abaca is also known as Manila hemp. It is a Musasea family plant native to Asia and planted in humid areas including in the Philippines and East of Indonesia. Abaca fibres are extensively used to produce ropes, woven fabrics, tea bags, etc. It is also called biodegradable and sustainable fiber. Abaca is considered the strongest of natural fibres, being three times stronger than sisal fibre, and is far more resistant to saltwater decomposition than most of the vegetable fibres. Compared to synthetic fibres like rayon and nylon, abaca fibre possesses higher tensile strength and lower elongation in both wet and dry states. The Philippines is the world’s largest source and supplier of abaca fibre for cordage and pulp for specialist paper. It supplies 85% of the needed abaca fiber around the globe.
abaca fiber
Fig: Abaca fiber
Chemical Composition of Abaca Fiber:

Percentage (%)
Wax and fat

Manufacturing Process of Abaca:
Abaca fibres are processed is a similar manner to sisal fiber and other hard fibres, although the fibres do show a little more elasticity.

Some Abaca Fiber Manufacturer Companies:

  1. MAP Enterprises Inc.
  2. Yzen Handicraft Export Trading
  3. SPMI-Pulp
  4. Peral Enterprises
  5. Ching Bee Trading Corporation
  6. Selinrail International Trading
  7. Tag Fibers Inc.
  8. Dglglobal etc
Some of the Major Regions of Abaca Fiber Market:
  1. North America
  2. Europe
  3. China
  4. Japan
  5. Middle East and Africa
  6. India
  7. South America 
Identification of Abaca:
Although potentially difficult to distinguish from sisal on a slide mount, abaca (Musa textilis) has many characteristics that help to identify it. Its ultimates have a uniform diameter and a waxy appearance; often it is darker than sisal; also they are polygonal in cross-section and vary in size. Abaca may present spiral elements but often will have stegmata which are visible as small crown-like structures. Abaca, like sisal, has a counter-clockwise twist. Ropes, cordage and floor mats are typical sources of abaca.

Uses/Application of Abaca Fiber:
Abaca is a versatile plant with several uses. Because its fibers are particularly resistant to saltwater, abaca has been commonly used for fishing nets. Abaca fibre is used mainly in the production of tea bags and meat casings; it is also a substitute for bark, which was once a primary source of cloth. In addition, it is considered an excellent raw material in the processing of security and high quality paper, diapers, napkins, machinery filters, hospital textiles (aprons, caps, gloves), and electrical conduction cables, as well as some 200 other different finished products.

Fibres are removed from the abaca’s stalk to make ropes, clothing, paper-based materials, filter cloths, tea and coffee bags, disposable fabrics, reinforcement fibers for plaster, lighter weight woven fabrics mostly of an artisanal type, and other handicrafts. The cordage market is decreasing owing to competition from synthetic fibers. These plants thrive well in shaded and cool habitats and resemble the banana plant in many respects.

The following table show details uses of abaca fiber:

Cordage products - ropes, twines, marine cordage, binders, cord
Pulp and paper manufactures - tea bags, filter paper, mimeograph stencil, base tissue, sausage skin, base paper
   Cigarette paper, currency paper, chart file folders, envelopes, time cards, book binders and parchment    paper
   Microglass air filters media, x-ray negative, optical lens wiper, vacuum filter, oil filter
   Nonwovens - medical gas masks and gowns, diapers, hospital linens, bed sheets
   Handmade paper - paper sheets, stationeries, all-purpose cards, lamp shades, balls, dividers, placemats,    bags, photo frames and albums, flowers, table clock
Fibercrafts - handbags, hammocks, placemats, rugs, carpets, purses and wallets, fishnets, door mats, table clock
Handwoven fabrics - sinamay, pinukpok, tinalak, dagmay
   Sacks, hotpads, hemp, coasters
Others - wire insulator and cable, automobile, automobile components/composites
Fiberboards - roofing tiles, floor tiles, hollow blocks, boards, reinforcing fiber concrete and asphalt
Fuels - musafel
Miscellaneous applications - wigs, grass skirts
  1. Bast and other plant fibres, Edited by Robert R Franck
  2. Handbook of textile fibres by J. Gordon Cook
  3. Identification of textile fibers Edited by Max M. Houck
  4. http://www.pertanika2.upm.edu.my/Pertanika%20PAPERS/JST%20Vol.%2019%20%282%29%20Jul.%202011/13.pdf
  5. http://www.euronatur.org/fileadmin/docs/projekte/fibre.PDF
  6. http://fida.da.gov.ph/Templates/abaca_grades_and_uses.htm
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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