You are on page 1of 8





Soybean Protein Fiber (SPF) has been praised locally and
internationally by industry expert as the Healthy and Comfortable Fiber
of 21st Century. SPF is only renewable botanic protein fiber. This fiber
appears from soybean a plant which has enormous source and affluent
in nutrition.
SPF is a scientific result accomplished by Mr. Li Guanqi from China after
10 years of research with 70 million investments. Since 2000, China
claims to have taken world lead in industrialization production of SPF. The new fiber is cheaper than the
fibers it aims to replace, costing a third of the price of silk and one fifteenth of the price of cashmere.
SPF doesnt cause hazards to the environment. Its products are degradable in earth, back to nature.
Its moisture absorption, ventilation, draping and warmth cover the superior performance of natural fibers
and synthetic ones. This fiber attributes silk like grace, resembling warmth of wool as well as the
softness and smoothness; it is feeling like skin on skin. The apparels made of soybean protein fiber
hangs gracefully on body. Its drapability, smoothness, softness and hygroscopic are better than cotton

The soybean is a Papillionoid legume, a member of tribe Phaseoleae and sub tribe Glycininae. The
species Glycine max is the cultivated soybean. Soybean cultivation started in China 3000 years ago. In
India major soybean producing states are Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
Soybeans contain protein, carbohydrates and fats as well as vitamins and minerals such as folic acid,
calcium and iron. It contains lots of amino-acids necessary for human-body such as hydroxyl, carboxyl
etc. and added anti bacterial elements offers a protective function to skin.
According to Ji Guobiao, senior textile researcher from the China Academy of Engineering, after 100
years of development the synthetic fibers have become a major raw material of the textile industry in the
world but have three limitations.
9 They rely on crude oil resource which is close to being exhausted.
9 Many of chemical fibers contaminate the environment during their production.
9 The texture of synthetic fibers does not have the same texture as that of natural fibers.
The limitations of chemical synthetic fibers lead to the development of new fiber materials, which should
have the following characteristics:

9 it should be developed from the low cost natural resources instead of greatly relying on crude
9 Its production process should be clean and eco- friendly.
9 It should be comfortable to the skin of human beings.
9 Fibers that have similar texture like natural fibers are required since the natural fibers especially
protein fibers which are popular for their inimitable appearance and properties are very costly
and not available abundantly.

In 1935, the research began yielding methods for converting protein of peanuts, corn and soybean into
the textiles fibers. As early as 1937, soybean fiber was showing promises of usefulness in the textile
field. It was the first textiles filaments to spin from the protein of vegetable origin.
The Ford motor company carried out research and separation of protein from soybean to convert them
into fibers. The production started in 1939 and fibers were used to make upholstery for motorcars. The
production was taken over by the Drackett products Co. and a new plant was set up in 1949. After ten
years of hard work of Mr. Li Guanqi's as well as the contribution and assistance of many other
departments and organization, soybean fiber has come into birth and its industrialization started.
SPF is a latest textile fiber. It is made from the Soybean
cake or bean dregs that are produced after extracting oil by
new bio- engineering technology. Firstly, the spherical
protein or globular protein is distilled from the soybean
cake having a protein content of about 45 to 55 %. Then,
forming aqueous slurry to extract proteins and
carbohydrates, precipitating the protein onto and into the
insoluble portion of the leguminous materials and
separating the solids from the liquid portion of the slurry.
This will form an aqueous alkaline spinning dope with the
separated solids which is forced through a spinneret into
an acid and salt coagulating bath to form proteinaceous
filaments. Thus, 0.9- 3.0 decitex (dtex) fibers are produced
by wet spinning.
The raw materials being a natural product available in
abundance and recyclable there is no waste of resources.
All auxiliary materials and agents used in the production of
SPF are harmless to nature, and most auxiliaries used and
even unfinished products are recyclable. The bean dregs, too, after having their protein extracted can be
used as fodder. SPF is a kind of environmentally protecting product which does not harm to the
environment, atmosphere, water and human body during its process of production.


Vertical shear of SPF is irregular and has moisture absorbing grooves.
When lengthwise fibers are examined microscopically, longitudinal lines
called striations are seen. In cross section it appears dumbbell shaped
and has Island-in -a Sea structure.
Vertical shear

Cross section


Moisture Regain%
Friction Force
Slide length
Bending Length
Drape Coefficient %
Antistatic Property g/cm-2




33.4 F/gf
1.101 C/cm

35.4 F/gf
3.26 l/cm
1.588 C/cm

55.4 F/gf
2.95 l/cm
1.437 C/cm

Resistance to thinacid, not resistant to

hot thin-acid
(relatively good)
Resistance to
caustic soda

Resistance to thinacid (good)

Resistance to acid

Resistant to thin-acid

Resistance to Alkali

Resistance to moth &


Resistance to thinalkali (soda), not

resistance to caustic
Resistance to moth
& Fungus


Flexural Rigidity

14.84 B /

Resistance to moth
not resistance to
45.01 B /

Resistance to thinalkali (soda), not

resistant to caustic
Resistance to
moth & fungus
35.70 B /


The light fastness of soybean fiber was tested under outdoor condition for two months. After the test, the
color of SPF fades a little, the strength decreases 11 percent and no mold fungus appears. Furthermore,
the strength of SPF decreases only 9.8 percent under the ultraviolet radiation for 120 hours. The test
results indicate that the SPF has good light fastness property and good resistance to ultraviolet radiation
which is better than cotton, viscose and silk.
Several knitted and woven soybean-fabric samples were laundered in the standard conditions. The test
results indicate that the soybean fabric can be machine- wash while the knitted samples shrink markedly
after washing.

SPF is converted into pure soybean yarn and its blends with natural (cotton, linen, wool, cashmere and
silk) and chemical (modified polyester, viscose, tencel, polynosic etc) fibers by ring spinning in following
a)Opening,CleaningandBlending Staple fibers arrive at the yarn
processing plant in large bales .It is important to separate or open the
fiber mass to a single fiber state or as close as possible. The opening
and blending machines separate and blends fibers from different bales
or cartons.
b)Carding- Carding continues the cleaning of the fibers, it removes fibers
too short to use as yarn. The process partially aligns the fibers so that their
longitudinal axes are somewhat parallel. By the carding machine thin web is
gathered into a soft mass and pulled into a rope like strand of fibers about
inches in diameter, called a sliver.
c) Combing- For high quality yarns of superior evenness, smoothness
and fineness and strength fibers are combed as well as carded. Card slivers
are fed to the machine where several card slivers are combined. This
smoothes out the card slivers pulls out the fibers into a thin layer and reforms a new slivers called as a comb sliver.
d) Drawing Slivers from either the carding unit or combing unit
depending on the ultimate yarn desired, reprocessed through the finisherdrawing or drafting frame. This is the process by which the fiber of different
types can be blended together to form a blended yarn. Eight slivers are
drawn together to produce a drawn sliver. The drawn sliver is about the
same size as, or slightly smaller than the card or comb sliver.
e) Roving- Slivers from the finisher drawing are taken to the roving
frame where each sliver will be attenuated until it measures approximately
one-eighth of its original diameter. A slight amount of twist is imparted to
give strength. The new strand called roving is laid on a bobbin.
f) Spinning- This is the final stage. During spinning, the roving is
attenuated to the desired diameter called the final draft & desired amount
of the twist is inserted.

Yarns of SPF


Air Jet looms is used for weaving & warping is done by automatic warpers. Fabrics made of SPF blends
with other natural or chemicals fibers have so been used in shirting & home textiles. Their special
feature is luster and the soft hand found in silk. Their economic effects are quite high.
Soybean protein contained in fibers makes a superior, soft hand endowed with absorbency &
permeability which makes best application in knits and innerwear.

1. Soft, light Feelthe fabric made from SPF is soft smooth, light, with natural luster and good
draping property. It is very comfortable and soft for people to wear apparels just a second skin.
2. Dry the moisture absorption of these fibers is similar to that of cotton but its ventilation is more
superior to that of cotton.
3.Luxuriantappearancetheses fabrics have joyful silky luster with perfect drape & elegance. It
has much better drape than cotton & silk.
4.Goodcolorfastness the original color is ivory. It can be dyed by acid dyes, metal complex and
reactive dyes and color are quite stable in the sunshine and perspiration.
5. Anti Ultraviolet- SPFs anti- ultraviolet property is superior to cotton much more superior to
viscose and silk.
6.WarmthRetention the warmth retention property of soybean fabric is similar to that of cotton
but poorer than wool.

1. Fabric from SPF Blended with Cashmere- SPF with its proportion over 50% could be
blended with cashmere to get yarns with high counts, which would be used for spring, summer and
autumn thin cashmere sweaters. These products have properties of smoothness, light and soft and easy
to care than pure cashmere products.
Wool yarn cover SPF yarn and as both the fibers are hydroscopic, air permeable and
thermal so makes the whole fabric soft, smooth, dry and comfortable.
The fabrics preserve the luster and fineness of fabrics and new character of smooth
handle and are ideal materials for light and thin woolen sweater, underwear, top grade
formal wear, coat & blanket.

Blended fabrics from SPF and silk preserve good luster, air permeable, soft,
smooth, dry, elegant, comfortable to wear, and health function. When compared
to silk fabrics because of SPFs own property, the draping property of blended

fabric will be improved and cut down the cost. This fabric is suitable for top grade apparel including
sleepwear, shirts and evening dresses.
Compared to cotton fabrics handle of these blended fabrics have been improved. It
has softer hand, better moisture absorption and ventilation, better bacterial
resistance and more comfort for wearing. These fabrics are ideal for shirts,
underwear, T-shirts, Infant apparel, sportswear, trowel and beddings.
Fabrics from SPF with polyester, viscose and acrylic etc. have better
properties of comfort, air permeability and crease resistance. The blended
fabric is quite suitable for spring and summer fashion apparels, underwear,
shirts and sportswear. These products are soft, comfortable and intimate to

SPF & Polyester

As SPF is very fine, soft and smooth, it is the most ideal material for the products which are intimate to
skin such as mens and womens underwear, sleepwear, sweaters, sportswear, T-shirts, childrens and
infants apparel, and home textiles like towel, blanket and beddings etc.
Pure soybean and its blends with wool, silk, cotton and spandex fabrics are being produced and use
widely for ranges of garments according to fashion in vogue, baby wear, undergarments, towels,
sweaters and bedspreads have been launched. SPF is a promising new fiber that can be thought of as a
replacement for purely synthetic fibers.

SPF & wool Blend blanket

Under Garments

T- Shirt



Ladies top

Author Details Ms Jyoti Bhasin, Senior Faculty, CRM, FDDI (Footwear Design & Development
Institute), Noida, India