Since the first production of an artificial fibre in 1855 the man-made fibre technology has been a great success story. Global man-made fibre production (filaments and staple fibres) increased constantly and reached an annual consumption of 55 million tons in 2011, representing more than 65 % of total fibre consumption worldwide (see Fig. 1). Approximately 44 % of the produced man-made fibres are converted to staple fibres.

Today it is not possible to ensure an adequate supply of textiles for mankind without the exploitation of man-made fibres. It is expected that worldwide man-made fibre consumption will still increase significantly. Fig. 2 shows the development of the world population and the worldwide fibre consumption per head from 1950 to 2011. It can be clearly seen that these two values increased dramatically over the years. In the future, both world population and absolute fibre consumption per head are expected to rise further, but production of natural fibres can be expanded only slowly (see Fig. 3). The expected substantial rise in the demand for fibres throughout the world during the coming decades must therefore be satisfied by increased use of man-made fibres. The fibres themselves, and hence the know-how involved in processing them, are therefore steadily acquiring greater significance.

Fig. 1 – Global production of fibres in 2011 [1]

Fig. 2 – World population and fibre consumption over the years [2]

Fig. 3 – Global fibre production over the years [2]