Journal of Agriculture, Science and Technology

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Potential of Kapok Fibre as a Substitute of Cotton in Textiles

ETN Bisanda, LY Mwaikambo


Kapok fibre, commonly known in Kiswahili as ‘sufi\' is obtained from kapok plant, Ceiba pentandra. The conventional end uses of kapok include mattress/pillow stuffing, upholstery and thermal insulation. The market for kapok in these traditional uses has declined considerably over the past 30 years, due to the developments in synthetic materials, such as foamed plastics, which have almost replaced kapok in most of its traditional end uses. Attempts to use kapok fibre for producing textile yarn were not successful due to the slippery nature of the fibres and its brittleness. However, a blend of kapok and cotton fibres was successfully spun into a yarn after blending the two in a kapok/cotton ratio 3:2. The yarn produced exhibited mechanical properties similar to most of the short staple fibres. The fabric produced was lustrous, slippery and with a smooth, soft handle. The fibre yarn resulting from blending kapok with cotton is potentially suitable for producing woven textile fabrics. In addition to its potential use as clothing material, the fabric is being considered for suitability as reinforcement to thermosetting polymeric materials such as polyester and phenolic resins.
Journal of Agriculture, Science and Technology Vol. 1 (1) 1997: 66-71

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