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Published: June 26, 2018

                Dr.N.N. MAHAPATRA

C.Col  FSDC ( UK),CText FTI ( Manchester ), FRSC  ( UK ),FAIC(USA)

Business Head(Dyes)


(301-302, Atlanta Center, Near Udyog Bhawan,

Sonawala Road, Goregaon (East )

Mumbai  400063. India

The   basic  necessities  of life   are the human  survival   four aspects  .Along  with  society’s  progress  and development  of material  civilization   development , people ‘s value  on clothing  are keep on increasing . The fashion  industry  therefore  has been   gone through   generations  of revolution  in order  to meet  general’s   expectation . In recent years , there are few aspects  that regards as important  for different kinds of clothing  which are follows

  1. Material multiplication .
  2. Light and easy  wearing cuts .
  3. Which are stylish and trendy .
  4. Design to suitable for wearing in specific  occasions .

Especially  in past two years , International  and domestic markets have paid a lot of attention   to the development of textile that are eco-friendly .

The  definition   of  eco-friendly  textile  are  as below ;

  1. Raw material  is recyclable and reusable .
  2. Non-damage to natural  environment  during manufacturing and processing .
  3. Safe to customers .
  4. Bio-degradable  when  discarded .

The development  enhances  better  quality  of life , guarantees human’s health  and environment –friendly , which without doubt was a watershed  in the fashion  industry  revolution .Some of the animal  Hair fibres  satisfying the above criteria is already in use  in textile industries like Camel Hair ,Mohair ,Cashmere  and Alpaca . But there are also  few hair fibres identified by the FTC   which are used for specialized purposes and for a limited extent . These are as follows ;

  1. Cow hair –obtained from the hides of slaughtered   cows .It is used for  felts and coarse  rugs and cushions .
  2. Horsehair –obtained primarily from horses ‘ manes and tails . It is used as a shape retainer in suits  and coats  and for  stuffing  in mattresses and upholstery .
  3. Rabbit hair –obtained  from the common rabbit . It is used for felt  in hats .

The fur of animals  such as the rabbit has  long been used as textile fibre . There are two  types of fur fibre ;

A. an outer coat of long ,spiky fibres acts as a protective covering .

B. an inner  coat  of soft , fine fibres which keeps the animal warm .

Angora rabbit- hair ( often described  erroneously  as ‘ angora wool ‘ ) has been  in widespread use in European countries for a century or more .

Angora is the hair of the Angora  rabbit produced  in Europe ,Chile ,China and the United States .The  Angora  rabbit  is a variety  of domestic rabbit  for its long , soft hair .The Angora  is one of the oldest types of domestic rabbit ,originating  in Ankara ,Turkey  , along with the Angora cat and Angora goat . The rabbits were popular pets with French royalty  in the mid  1700 s  , and spread to other parts  of Europe  by the end of the century .They first  appeared in the United States  in the early  1900 s .

Production –

           There are bred  largely  for their  long angora  wool , which may be removed   by shearing ,combing , or plucking ( gently pulling loose  wool ) . The Angora rabbit  produces long ,fine  , silky white hair  that is clipped or combed  every 3 to 4 months  . It  is harvested  up to  four times   a year  by plucking  or shearing .  The finest  angora comes from France,Italy  , and Japan .The Angora   rabbit  is also  raised in  many other  parts  of the world , including the United States .Fibre yield   and quality vary  with the rabbit and its health and breed, and ranges from 8 to 30 oz . Of the four breeds of Angora rabbits , the two most common types are  English and French .English Angoras produce  a fine silky fibre ; French Angoras produce a coarser  fibre .

Rabbits of the angora breed are adorned  with  “ fur “ ,growths of wool on the ears and the entire face except above the nose , and front feet , along  with their thick body , and wool .They are gentle in nature , but  they are not recommended   for those  who do not  groom  their  animals . Their fur  is very thick and needs to  be groomed a lot  .The French Angora  is one of the  largest  Angora  breeds  at 7 ½  to 10 lbs ., with a commercial body type .It differs from the English and German  Angora in that it possesses a clean face and front feet with only minor tufting  on the rear legs .

The rabbits are clipped  every  three  months ; the fibres are  7.5 cm ( 3 inch) long .The outer  ‘ guard hairs ‘  are separated  from the fine fur by blowing  the fibres in a stream of air . Both  hair  and fine fur are used for  making textiles , the former giving strength  and beauty   to the fabric  and latter  warmth and softness . The two types of fibres are mixed  in such proportions   as to  provide the desired effect.

Structure  and properties –

            Angora wool  , the speciality  hair fibre obtained  from Angora  rabbit  has special  characteristics  like  excellent  whiteness , superb  softness , lightness  and warmth .

  The fibre ‘s smooth , silky  texture  makes  it difficult  to spin and the fibres tend to slip  out of the yarn and shed from the fabric ; nevertheless , the fibre is desired  for its texture , warmth ,light weight  and pure white colour , although it is sometimes dyed in light shades .  The white or naturally  coloured fibre is very  fine ( 13 microns ) , fluffy ,soft , slippery  , and  fairly  long . Angora   does not  take dye  well  and usually  has a lighter colour than other fibres  with which it is blended . It has great   economic  value  in woolen  textile industry  for manufacture of  speciality fabrics . Having special   characteristics  and rare availability  ,it is a very costly  fibre .The  products of angora wool  have  high  demand in elite  group of consumers . The normal angora rabbit  hair  used is of 14  – 16 micron . The  dimensions  of rabbit fibres  vary over a wide range . In general  , the  fine fibres  are less  than   20 mm ( ¾ in) , whereas  the guard hairs   are  50-60 mm  in staple length .

The cross-section  also varies such as  the fine fur fibres are round ,oval or rectangular . The coarser  guard  hairs are often dumb-bell shaped   , or in the form of  a sharp-edged oval . The scales on the  surface   of fine fur fibres are fairly  uniform in shape . They often  extend  half-way  round the fibre . Scales  on the guard  hairs have serrated edges  , and the edges often run  slantwise  across the fibre . Both types of fibres have thick medullas , which contain  many pockets  of air .

The keratin  of fur fibres is probably  a   mixture  of several   closely  related  proteins .The chemical  behaviour   of these  fibres  is generally similar to that of wool and other animal fibres .  Water is absorbed less readily  by rabbit  fibres than it is by wool . Hot water tends to soften  or plasticize  the fibres . Alkalis dissolve fur fibres .

Before dyeing with acid dyes  angora rabbit hair  is given a pretreatment  using sodium hydroxide with concentration of 1.5 %  w/v for 15 minutes at 25 deg c . It gives good swelling , sufficient fibre strength , better dye uptake and good fastness properties .

Blending  of rabbit hair fibre –

It is   often blended  with wool to  facilitate  spinning  because  the slick  fibre  has poor cohesiveness . However ,like other  speciality  fibres  , rabbit hairs  also poses  difficulty  when  processed  alone  due to its lesser  scale height  and absence of inter  fibre cohesion . It is believed  that  while  in use , part  of this  fibre  drops away from the  products . Generally  blending  of two fibre helps in exploiting   the outstanding positive attributes of each fibre and at the same time offers effective means of minimizing  the negative  characteristic  of individual  components . And so  to increase the fibre cohesion rabbit hair is utilized   mainly in blends with other fibres . The blending  of rabbit hair  imparts   excellent  effect to the product . Angora  rabbit hair can be blended  with  wool/cotton and spun  in cotton and woolen spinning  systems . Latest  it  is blended with viscose fibre  and spun in the cotton spinning system . The most popular blend is Angora rabbit hair /viscose  in 20/80  blend  ratio .

The blending  of Angora  rabbit hair leads to the improvement  of yarn properties suitable for the garment production .

Uses  of Rabbit hair  fibre –

Angora rabbit hair  is used primarily for items such as sweaters , mittens , baby  clothes , and millinery . It is also used in apparel  such as sweaters and suitings  and in knitting  yarn . If a  label  states “ rabbit  hair  “ , this means  the fibre  is from a common  rabbit , not an Angora rabbit .Rabbit  hair is often  used to make felt for hats , but is too short  to make into yarns  for woven   or knitted fabrics .  Rabbit  hair  and fur are used very largely  for making  felts and for knitted goods such as cardigans , gloves and berets . For  knitted goods  they are usually  belnded  with  wool before spinning .

Rabbit  fibre  fabrics have an attractive  appearance  and a soft  luxurious  handle . They wash like wool , and tend to  felt very easily . This  property   is made  use  of in the manufacture  of  ‘felts ‘.

Rabbit fibre has got good scope in India  .  Vardhman  and Oswal group can mix rabbit hair  with  wool and acrylic fibre and make yarn for sweaters and cardigans and export the   products with a special premium price .  Similarly Worsted units like Raymonds, Jayashree , Digjam , Reliance  also can try   blending rabbit hair  with wool and make   premium  safari suits   , blazers  etc  and export to   American and European countries.

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