Sisal fibre made from the large spear shaped tropical leaves of the Agave Sisalana plant.
Fine fibre available as plaid, herringbone and twill. Sisal fibre is extracted by a process known as decortication, where leaves are crushed
and beaten by a rotating wheel set with blunt knives, so that only fibers
remain. In East Africa, where production is typically on large estates, the
leaves are transported to a central decortication plant, where water is used to
wash away the waste parts of the leaf. The fiber is then dried, brushed and
baled for export. Superior quality sisal is found in East Africa, once washed
and decorticated. Proper drying is important as fiber quality depends largely on
moisture content. Artificial drying has been found to result in generally better
grades of fiber than sun drying, but is not feasible in the developing countries
where sisal is produced. In the dryer climate of north-east Brazil, sisal is
mainly grown by smallholders and the fiber is extracted by teams using portable
raspadors which do not use water. Fibre is subsequently cleaned by brushing. Dry
fibers are machine combed and sorted into various grades, largely on the basis
of the previous in-field separation of leaves into size groups
Uses of Sisal
From ancient times sisal has been the leading material for agricultural twine
because of its strength, durability, ability to stretch, affinity for certain dyestuffs, and resistance to deterioration in
saltwater. Apart from ropes, twines and general cordage sisal is used in low-cost and specialty paper,
dartboards, buffing cloth, filters, geotextiles, mattresses, carpets,
handicrafts, wire rope cores and Macrame. Sisal fibers are great alternative to plastic.
Woven floor covering, floor tiles, rugs, wall coverings, wainscoting and fabric panels,
Handbags, shopping bags etc are now made from Sisal fibre.
Now sisal has been
utilized as an environmentally friendly strengthening agent to replace asbestos
and fiberglass in composite materials in various uses including the automobile
industry. The lower grade fiber is processed by the paper industry because
of its high content of cellulose and hemicelluloses. The medium grade fiber is
used in the cordage industry for making: ropes, baler and binders twine. Ropes
and twines are widely employed for marine, agricultural, and general industrial
use. The higher-grade fiber after treatment is converted into yarns and used by the carpet industry.
Other products developed from sisal fiber include spa products, cat scratching
posts, lumbar support belts, rugs, slippers, cloths and disc buffers. Sisal wall
covering meets the abrasion and tearing resistance standards of the American
Society for Testing and Materials and of the National Fire Protection
Despite the yarn durability sisal is known for, slight matting of sisal
carpeting may occur in high traffic areas. Sisal carpet does not build up
static nor does it trap dust. Spot and high spill areas can be
removed by dry cleaning powder. Sisal is used
by itself in carpets or in blends with wool and acrylic for a softer
hand. A low level of energy used in manufacturing the fibre.
Sisal Fibre is exceptionally durable with a low maintenance with minimal wear and tear
and it is Recyclable. Sisal fibres are obtained from the outer leaf skin, removing the inner pulp. Fine fibre available as plaid, herringbone and twill.
Sisal fibres are Anti static, does not attract or trap dust particles
and does not absorb moisture or water easily. The fine texture takes dyes easily
and offers the largest range of dyed colours of all natural fibres.
It exhibits good sound and impact absorbing properties. Its leaves can be treated with natural borax for fire resistance properties.
Sisal is not
recommended for areas that receive wet spills, or rain or snow. Its
fibre absorbs air humidity leading to a small amount of expanding and contracting (rugs and unsecured edges may curl).
Sisal fibre is too tough for textiles and fabrics. Its fibre is not suitable for a smooth wall finish.It
is reported that some plantations have destroyed natural forests to agricultural land.
As extraction of fibre uses only a small percentage of the plant, some attempts
to improve economic viability have focussed on utilising the waste material for
production of biogas, for stock feed, or by the extraction of pharmaceutical
materials. Now a new higher-valued sisal products have been
developed. It is hardest wearing natural floor covering. It is
highly renewable resource.