Bamboo- For Handicrafts and Fiber

Bamboo, genetically, a grass, is proving to be a suitable green substitute to hardwood timber. Its green, because it is one of the fastest growing plants, and under a suitable regimen of agro-forestry, can substantially reduce the burden on our forests.

Needless to mention, that Indian Wooden Handicraft Industry is having to look at alternative resources for raw material, in light of Indian Rosewood (Shisham) having been classified under schedule 2 of the  CITES lists.

Bamboo seems to fit the bill perfectly. 

As a farmer, as well a stake-holder in handicraft business, we have hence commenced planting bamboo for our needs. In quest of elite planting material, I travelled to all corners of the country, as well as parts of Bhutan and Nepal. We collected some interesting genotypes- We also received some g! ood planting material from Agro-Forestry Dept.of GBPUAT. As a result of above efforts, we have now established trial plots of 6 species of bamboo on our farm, which we shall study for suitability for handicraft applications, as well as its agronomy ( suitability as a cash crop).

Bamboo has a long and interesting history dating back more than 5,000 years. The woody stem has various applications- it is widely used in construction industry, handicrafts, paper, furniture and for fiber processing, besides some other applications. 

Bamboo textiles are textiles derived from bamboo fibers, with or without hemp/cotton/spandex blends. BAMBOO Fiber is obtained from the culms- it is lingo cellulosic, made from bamboo timber which has matured for at least 3-4 years (depending on species). The major chemical constituents of ! bamboo are cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin, besides minor! occurrence of waxes, resins, tannins, proteins and ashes. Bamboo fibers comprise of 60–70 % holo-cellulose, pentose’s (20–25 %), hemicelluloses and lignin. The α-cellulose of bamboo is comparable with that of woods. Cellulose contents in this range make bamboo a suitable raw material for the pulp and paper industry. Cellulose is made up of linear chains of β-1-4-linked glucose anhydride units.

Mature Culms are crushed and submersed in a strong solution of sodium hydroxide to dissolve the cellulose. Carbon disulfide is added to regenerate fibers, which are then drawn off, washed and bleached and dried. The resultant fluff is spun into yarn.

The higher tensile strength and longer staple results in a tough yet soft yarn – This is what gives bamboo fabrics excellent durability. The hollowness of the bamboo fiber makes it highly absorbent. Thus, it takes longer to dry on a clothesline. ! The hollowness of the bamboo fiber also enables it to hold color (dyes and pigments)-thus it is much more colorfast.

Main methods of producing bamboo fibers-

The culm is crushed and soaked in a solution of 18 % NaOH at 20–25 °C for 1– 3 h to form alkali cellulose, which is then pressed to remove excess NaOH solution. The mass is further crushed, left to dry for 24 h and CS2 added. This causes the bamboo alkali cellulose to sulfurise and jell out. The remaining CS2 is removed by evaporation due to decompression, resulting in sodium xanthogenate.  A diluted solution of NaOH is added to the cellulose sodium xanthogenate, to dissolve it into a viscose solution consisting of about 5 % NaOH and 7–15 % bamboo fiber cellulose.  The viscose solution is forced through spinneret nozzles into a larger container of diluted sulfuric acid (H2SO4) solution which, hardens the viscose and reconve! rts it to cellulose bamboo fiber which are spun into yarns (to! be woven! or knitted).

Lyocell process uses N-methylmorpholine-N-oxide (NMNO) to dissolve the bamboo cellulose into viscose solution. NMNO- a weak alkaline-  acts as surfactant, as well as to break down the cellulose structure. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is added as a stabilizer and the solution is forced through spinnerets into a hardening bath (usually a solution of H2O2 and a alcohol like methanol or ethanol), which causes the thin streams of viscose solution to harden into bamboo cellulose fibers. The regenerated bamboo fibers are spun into yarns.

BAMBOO CHARCOAL FIBER  The joints of bamboo are cut out and then split up into pieces of slivers of an inch in width. The shredded bamboo is pickled in a solution of clear lime-water, nitrate of soda and oxalic acid. The pickled bamboo is removed after 12–24 h in order to be boiled in a solution of soda ash. The material is crushed and then combed, carded, or h! eckled. It is then spun into cordage, yarn or other forms of manufacturing.
LITRAX (NATURAL) BAMBOO FIBER Mechanical extraction of natural bamboo fiber, a Bamboo culms. b Mechanical splitting of bamboo culms. c Rasping of woody parts. d Enzyme bath. e Gray and bleached natural bamboo fibers. f Woven bamboo fabric. In order to turn bamboo into a fiber, first the culm must be crushed mechanically. The crushed bamboo strands are then treated with designed enzymes to separate the fibrous material from the glue-like lignin within the plant. This includes a series of precisely timed alternate steam- washing and enzyme treatment cycles, which also act on the vertical and horizontally aligned lignin of the resulting fiber bundles. The final step is to bleach the fibers with hydrogen peroxide. The resulting natural staple length varies between 70 and 150 mm, but can be cut to shorter lengths for processing, i.e. 50 or 38 mm staple. Litrax provides the LITRAX-1 (L1) natural! bamboo fibers with a special DNA coding to protect its vertic! al supply! chain and customers. The DNA coding will guarantee that customers are buying the original, authentic bamboo fiber from Litrax. The fiber is strong and durable.

TECHNICAL DATA OF LITRAX L1 BAMBOO FIBER L1 fiber characteristics Dimensions Fineness 5.7D Fiber dimensions 38 mm from (natural 70–150 mm staple)

END USES OF BAMBOO FIBER Bamboo fabrics are made from pure bamboo fiber yarns which have excellent wet permeability, moisture vapor transmission property, soft hand, better drape, easy dying, splendid colors.

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