Acrylic fiber is a synthetic textile material with a wide range of applications in the fashion and textile industries. It is made from a type of synthetic polymer known as polyacrylonitrile (PAN). Acrylic fibers are valued for their versatility, durability, and affordability, which make them a popular choice for various purposes.

One of the key characteristics of acrylic fiber is its softness and wool-like feel. It is often used as a cost-effective alternative to natural wool because it mimics wool's texture and warmth. Acrylic fibers are lightweight and provide good insulation, making them suitable for cold-weather clothing such as sweaters, scarves, and blankets.


History of Acrylic Fabric

Acrylic fabric, introduced by DuPont as Orlon in 1941, emerged as a synthetic alternative to natural fibers like wool and cotton. Initially developed during World War II due to fiber shortages, acrylic fibers gained popularity for their versatility, durability, and resistance to moths and mildew. Over the years, technological advancements improved the quality and performance of acrylic fibers, making them suitable for a wide range of applications in fashion, home textiles, outdoor settings, and industrial uses. Acrylic fabrics are known for their lightweight feel, softness, and color retention. Despite their positive attributes, environmental concerns have arisen due to the petrochemical-based production process and non-biodegradable nature of acrylic fibers, prompting efforts toward recycling and sustainability in the industry.



  • Apparel: Acrylic is commonly used to make warm and lightweight sweaters. The fabric's softness and warmth make it suitable for winter accessories. Acrylic fibers are sometimes blended with other materials for comfortable and durable socks. Home Textiles:
  • Blankets and Throws: Acrylic is popular for its warmth and color retention in blankets and throws.
  • Upholstery: Its resistance to wear and tear, as well as its colorfastness, make it suitable for furniture upholstery.
  • Carpets and Rugs: Acrylic fibers are used in carpets for their softness and ability to retain vibrant colors. Outdoor and Recreational Gear:
  • Outdoor Clothing: Acrylic is used in outdoor clothing for its resistance to moisture and quick-drying properties.
  • Awnings and Tents: The fabric's durability and resistance to weathering make it suitable for outdoor applications. Industrial and Marine Applications:
  • Industrial Filtration: Acrylic fibers are used in filters due to their chemical resistance.
  • Marine Upholstery: The fabric's resistance to mildew and moisture makes it suitable for marine upholstery.  

Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process of acrylic fabric initiates with the polymerization of acrylonitrile, a petrochemical-derived monomer, resulting in polyacrylonitrile (PAN). These polymers are dissolved in a solvent and spun through spinnerets, forming fibers that undergo coagulation in a chemical bath. Following washing and finishing to remove impurities, the fibers are drawn, enhancing strength, and subjected to cutting or crimping for added bulkiness. Drying and heat-setting solidify the fibers, which can then be cut or blended. Quality control measures are integral throughout the process to ensure adherence to standards for strength, color, and other properties. Despite the efficacy of acrylic fibers in various applications, environmental concerns persist, prompting ongoing efforts within the industry to explore sustainable alternatives and practices.


Environmental Properties

  • Durability and Longevity: Acrylic fabric is known for its durability, which can contribute to a longer lifespan of products made from it. This longevity can reduce the frequency of replacement and, consequently, the overall environmental impact.
  • Resistance to Moisture and Mildew: Acrylic fibers resist moisture and mildew, making them less prone to damage from environmental factors. This resistance can contribute to the longevity of products and reduce the need for frequent replacements.
  • Recyclability: While acrylic is not biodegradable, it is recyclable. Efforts are being made to increase the recycling of acrylic fabrics, reducing the amount of waste entering landfills.


Negative Environmental Properties:

  • Petrochemical-Based Production: The primary raw material for acrylic fabric, acrylonitrile, is derived from petrochemicals. The production process involves non-renewable resources and contributes to carbon emissions associated with the extraction and processing of petroleum.
  • Energy Intensive: The manufacturing process for acrylic fabric can be energy-intensive, especially during the polymerization and drawing stages. High energy consumption contributes to the environmental footprint of acrylic production.
  • Non-Biodegradable: Acrylic fibers are synthetic and non-biodegradable. This characteristic means that products made from acrylic do not naturally break down over time, potentially leading to environmental concerns when disposed of in landfills.


Brands Using Acrylic Fabric

1. Patagonia: Known for their outdoor and activewear, Patagonia may use acrylic in some of their garments.

2. The North Face: Another outdoor and adventure-oriented brand, The North Face may utilize acrylic in their clothing and gear.

3. Uniqlo: Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo is known for its affordable and versatile apparel and may use acrylic in some of its knitwear


Manufacturers Using Acrylic Fabric

1. HRMNY International: HRMNY International, founded in 2018, specializes in providing top-quality fibers suitable for both yarn and nonwoven applications. The featured products include Drytex® acrylic staple, tow, and top sourced from Sudamericana de Fibras (S.A.). These versatile fibers are available in raw white, dyed white, dyed black, and the eco-friendly Drytex Cycle® post-industrial recycled option.

2. Leigh Fibers: Since the introduction of synthetic fiber into the waste stream in the 1930s, Leigh Fibers, founded in 1922, has emerged as a significant player in the recycling of various synthetic and synthetic blends, including nylon, viscose (Rayon), acrylic, polypropylene, acetate, aramids, polyester, and polyethylene. Leigh Fibers has consistently demonstrated a commitment to being highly active in the conversion and recycling of diverse fiber types.


News and Updates on Acrylic Fabric

Driving Innovation and Growth: Key Strategies of Major Players in the Acrylic Fibers Market

These leading entities are strategically pursuing various avenues to assert their dominance. One noteworthy tactic is the establishment of strategic alliances, enabling them to leverage synergies, share resources, and access new markets. By fostering collaborative relationships, these major players seek to enhance their competitiveness and expand their reach in the acrylic fibers market.

Where Acrylic Can Be Sourced

United States

Standards Related to Acrylic

Recycled Claim Standard