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Bamboo fibre in clothing, carpet and industrial textiles

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Speciality fibre production goes beyond the more familiar mohair, angora, and silk. Thuan My is a factory and retail shop in Vietnam that uses bamboo fibre to create the most interesting and innovative products – from soft toys, underwear and scarfs and textiles, to charcoal toothpaste and cleaning products.

Traditionally bamboo has been used in Asia for the production of hand-made paper. But with the advances in manufacturing today, bamboo pulp is now capable of creating bamboo fiber which can be used to make yarn and fabric.

 

This industry in Vietnam is desperate for international expertise and collaboration in developing new products, utilising bamboo and other natural fibres.

 

Thuan My sees the marketing potential in bamboo fibre and is keen to create jobs for rural people in this region of Vietnam, not far from Ho Chi Min City. Investment from the UK, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan has assisted in establishing sound processing and production systems.

The bamboo fibre is crushed and submerged in sodium hydroxide, dissolving the cellulose. After it has been washed and bleached it is dried creating a long fine fibre. The long staple and tensile strength achieves a soft but tough yarn.

This makes it an ideal fibre to blend with wool to create such high performance textiles as carpets and upholstery for softness and durability – blending two sustainable fibres to great effect.

Bamboo is one of the most under-utilised natural resources and it is available abundantly in Southeast Asian countries. The total bamboo forest area in the world reached 22 million hectares in 2008 and worldwide availability of bamboo fibre is over 30 million tons per year.

Bamboo fibre is ecological and environmentally friendly and has many of the favourable characteristics of other natural fibres. It is more absorbent, has good thermal insulation, UV and ultraviolet resistance, and good natural antibacterial properties.  The hollowness of the fibre allows it to hold dyes better for a more colourfast yarn.

However while there is low environmental impact in bamboo fabric and resulting products are environmentally friendly it should be noted that there is still some way to go before the chemicals used in processing the raw fibre will be replaced by a more environmentally friendly process.

Bamboo is blended with other fibres for garment manufacture and this has been gaining traction in recent years. Today a wool bamboo fibre blend carpet is also hitting the retail shop. Made from two sustainable, high performing materials it provides luxurious softness, durability and natural style to domestic and industrial carpets.

The auto industry’s endless pursuit of stronger, lighter materials, meets bamboo fibre. Ford is looking to naturally-tough bamboo as an alternative to carbon fiber. In its quest for lighter weight vehicles and improved sustainability, the U.S. automaker is putting the world’s tallest grass to the test. Bamboo can grow as much as three feet in a single day and takes just two to five years to reach maturity, easily outpacing trees and demonstrating strong sustainability credentials.

 

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