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Standards boost development of chemical fiber industry
China Standardization 2021-12-13

In addition to the initial functions of warming up and giving a sense of safety, clothes are gradually being upgraded with people’s greater capability of understanding, utilizing and transforming the natural materials. From flax, reeling silk, cotton to woven fabric, these traditional textile materials cannot meet people’s higher demands for modern fashion. Thereafter, more chemical fiber products such as modal and nylon are well-known to the public, and various hot-selling products originate from the development and innovation of chemical fibers.

Development of chemical fiber industry

The rapid development of chemical fiber industry, as one of the achievements of the economic development in China over the past four decades, has witnessed the country developing from a starter in difficulty to a great power in terms of manufacturing.

The establishment and development of the industry have played a very important role in tackling the shortage of textile raw materials in China. At the beginning of the 21st century, the annual output of chemical fibers in China reached 6.94 million tons, which became China’s main textile raw material, formally replacing the natural fibers with an annual output of 5.2 million tons.

Nowadays, chemical fibers with an annual output of over 60 million tons have become the primary raw materials for the industrial chain, fostering the development of textile industry in China. With the support of chemical fibers, the overall processing volume of textile industrial fibers in China has accounted for half of that in the world, in which chemical fibers take up more than 80 percent. The industry has become a traditional pillar industry of national economy with obvious advantages in international market, which is important for people’s livelihood.

Accelerating the development of standardization

The rapid development of chemical fiber industry comes from two aspects. On the one hand, the chemical fiber products from factories, with the property of standardized industrial products, have smaller external interference, stronger stability and fewer impurities, compared with the agricultural products including cotton. This is conducive to not only mass production but also optimized processing parameters in downstream enterprises and greater production efficiency.

On the other hand, based on artificially synthesized chemical fiber products, many kinds of subproducts with different strength, modulus, moisture regain and elasticity are generated through adjusting molecular structure, and differentiated products with different denier, crimp ratio, length and functionality can even be produced by regulating processing technologies. Thus, the property of chemical fiber as industrial products facilitates the development of uniform standards, and endlessly emerging differentiated fiber products are in urgent need of supporting standards.

In 2011, the output of chemical fibers reached 33.62 million tons, accounting for 73 percent in the total processing volume of textile fibers. There were only 34 national standards on chemical fibers, but there were 115 standards on various natural fibers, the output of which amounted to 7.5 million tons.

The industrial development was restricted by the significant gap between the number of standards and the scale of industry. However, with the support of SAC, China Chemical Fibers Association (CCFA) vigorously promoted the construction of standards system, and accelerated the preparation of the national technical committee on chemical fibers.

During the preparation period, experts from related ministries and commissions, associations and industries have conducted many surveys, investigated the production fields, and listened to the reports from enterprises to discuss how to promote and enhance the standardization of chemical fibers. With the concerted efforts of various parties, the standards system on chemical fibers that supports the general basic standards, method standards and product standards has taken form, covering specific materials for chemical fibers, chemical fibers and post-processing products of chemical fibers. It has laid a solid foundation for guiding the high-quality development of chemical fiber standardization.

Rich achievements in standardization work

Continuous supply of high-quality standards. With the ongoing standardization work, the standards supply in chemical fiber industry has gradually caught up with the pace of industrial development. A series of standards on high-performance fibers, such as GB/T 35748-2017, Polytetrafluoroethylene filament, and GB/T 35442-2017, Para-aramid staple fiber, have played a key role in the technical progress of high-grade, precise and advanced products, product quality improvement and market order regulation.

By the end of 2020, a total of 369 standards have been developed in the industry, including six international standards, 55 national standards, 250 sector standards and 58 association standards. In addition, to meet the related requirements on energy conservation, environmental protection and safe production in the industry, CCFA has developed the standards including GB 36889-2018, The norm of energy consumption per unit product of PET and PET fiber, and GB/T 18916.25-2016, Norm of water intake - Part 25: Viscose fiber products.

Innovative development of association standards. In 2015, CCFA, as one of the first few organizations to carry out the pilot work on association standards, established a standardization technical committee involved by manufacturers, testing bodies, colleges and universities, research institutions, industrial organizations and related upstream and downstream enterprises with practical and effective efforts.

CCFA has focused on the standards projects on functional fibers, recycling, bio-based chemical fibers and high-performance fibers. By the end of 2020, it has developed 58 standards, in which four standards were selected as the application and demonstration projects by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). In 2019, CCFA was recognized as one of the 28 organizations involved in the national plan on association standards cultivation.

Leading efforts in international standards development. CCFA is the mirror committee of ISO/TC 38/SC 23/WG 6 on man-made fibers. To promote the internationalization of China’s chemical fiber standards, CCFA launched an initiative to establish a standardization work committee under Asian Chemical Fiber Industries Federation (ACFIF), whose secretariat was held by CCFA.

Taking it as a platform, Chinese chemical fiber enterprises began to lead the communication and cooperation on chemical fiber standardization, organized relevant countries to coordinate and promote the standards projects approval and voting process in ISO, and made leading efforts in the development of six ISO standards.

Leading the industrial development

Not being restricted in the field of traditional clothes, the application of chemical fibers covers various areas from personal protection to national environmental governance. Standards always provide the greatest support for expanding the application fields of chemical fibers.

Today, the industry has established relatively complete framework for its standards system, which provides technical support for hundreds of differentiated products in seven subindustries. SAC/TC 586 on chemical fibers was finally approved and established in 2020 after 12 years of application and preparation with the joint efforts of various parties.

The technical committee has established a platform for high-level coordination and communication in chemical fiber standardization. It has provided the technical support for the high-quality development of the industry and the solid foundation for making more contribution to related international standardization, which has also served as an important means for the dual circulation pattern of domestic and international markets. The new chapter of chemical fiber standardization is being written by the professionals of our generation.

(Chinese version provided by SAC/TC 586 on chemical fibers; edited and translated by Jin Jili)

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