Creating a perfect fiber is an impossible task. Every natural and synthetic material has trade-offs, though modern technology and manufacturing processes are doing away with many fiber limitations. At Tex Tech, we strive to create fibers and fabrics that offer optimal performance in terms of strength, safety characteristics, comfort, and specialized properties like flame resistance. Oxidized polyacrylonitrile fibers (OPFs) go above and beyond in terms of high-performance fibers that offer multiple different angles of protection.
What Is Oxidized Polyacrylonitrile Fiber (OPF)?
Oxidized polyacrylonitrile fiber is created by oxidizing precursor acrylic fibers, known as polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibers. Manufacturers spin the acrylic fiber in a solution and process it through a high-temperature oven to stabilize its molecular structure.
Once the fibers are produced and stabilized, OPF is then produced into filament tow, with 300-320,000 filaments in each tow. The individual fibers can range from 1.37 to the higher-density and more heat-stable 1.40. The tow can also be produced as a continuous length of filament, which can be cut to size through stretch breaking, or as individual lengths of cut filament. Each variation in the production process results in fibers with different characteristics, so manufacturers consider the needs of the end application and specifications of the order to determine the tow count, supply method, and density.
Characteristics of Oxidized Polyacrylonitrile Fibers
Along with providing excellent protection against direct flame, OPF fiber offers a host of beneficial performance features, including:
- Cost-effective FR solution
- Won’t shrink, drip, burn, or melt
- No halogens and very low toxic gas emissions upon exposure to flame
- Electrically non conductive and great chemical resistance
- Soft, comfortable fabrics and felts
- Processability into nonwovens, knits, wovens, and yarns
- Unsurpassed flame and heat dimensional stability
- Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI) values between 45% and 55%
- The Product Blend Matrix
The Product Blend Matrix
This product blend metric showcases our fiber generating and selection process at Text Tech Industries. We produce a wide range of standard and customized blends to meet the unique needs of each of our customers. By assessing a project’s needs and specifications, our engineering and production teams can create the right blended fiber product for hazardous conditions that demand failure-proof protection.
End Use Application Examples
Some of the most popular use cases for our OPF products include:
- Fire-Fighting Turnout Clothing. OPF clothing can protect wearers from heat and flame. The material is also resistant to wear and tear and abrasion so there’s a reduced risk of uncovered areas or gaps in protection.
- Wildland Fire-Fighting Clothing. Along with protective heat and flame protection characteristics, OPF fabrics are reasonably durable and comfortable for long hours of fighting fires.
- Military Clothing. OPF fabrics provide protection from flames and heat while still being comfortable.
- Foundry Clothing. OPF protective gear protects professionals from splashing molten metal, flame, and heat.
- Welding Clothing. OPF fabrics are durable and protect wearers from heat and splashing molten metal.
- Underwear. OPF fabric for underwear is designed to provide comfort, as well as heat and flame protection. But it can have reduced abrasion resistance and strength compared to other specialty OPF fabrics.
- Technical and Industrial Applications. While offering low physical strength characteristics, industrial OPF fabrics optimize for high heat and flame resistance.
- Carbonization. OPF fabrics can be further carbonized to produce unique materials.
Custom Fiber Solutions From Tex Tech
Tex Tech has been a leading provider of OPF and specialty fabrics for more than 30 years. For demanding industries that require high-performance and protective materials, OPF is an optimal choice. For help determining which material is best suited to your application, contact us or request a quote to get started.