Cotton Research Paper
Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt Ralph Lauren polo shirts have been in production since the 1970s. I am writing about polo shirts because I own many of them in different colors so I am interested in how they are made. Polos are composed of 100% cotton. I like to wear these shirts mainly because they are comfortable and look good, but also because they are easy to maintain. Cotton is machine washable and can also be dried in a standard dryer, even though they may shrink if over-dried. Cotton is made up of fibrous cellulose, which is a carbohydrate, and the molecular makeup is a long chain of glucose molecules.
Glucose molecules are made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen with reactive hydroxyl groups.
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There are as many as 10,000 glucose monomers per molecule. The molecular chains are arranged in long spiral linear chains within the fiber. The strength of a fiber is directly related to chain length. Hydrogen bonding occurs between cellulose chains in a cotton fiber. Hydrogen bonding occurs when hydroxyl groups within the chain are polar, meaning the electrons surrounding the atoms are not evenly distributed.
As a consequence, hydrogen atoms of the hydroxyl group are attracted to many of the oxygen atoms of the cellulose. The bonding of hydrogen within the fibrils causes the molecules to draw closer together which increases the strength of the fiber. Cotton’s comfort and absorbency is also due to hydrogen bonding. A picture of cotton’s chemical structure is shown below. Cotton is a natural fiber and is grown in temperate climates. Cotton plants live for at least two years in good conditions which makes it a perennial crop. Geographically, Antarctica is the only continent where cotton is not grown.
In the United States, cotton has been continually produced for hundreds of years, mainly in the southeastern region but also throughout the southern part of the country stretching all the way to California. Cotton is considered a stable investment since it has long seasons which can get up to half a year in profitable income, making cotton a primary choice for farmers as long as they live in a region with an appropriate climate. Once farmers have successfully grown the cotton plant, they use one of two different methods to harvest their fields.
The most common method involves the ‘cotton picker’ which does not damage the plant. They also have the option of using whats called a ‘cotton stripper,’ but this method makes the cotton more polluted with leaves and stems which requires more cleaning. Once the cotton is picked, it moves on to the cotton gin where on average about 40 bales of cotton per hour are processed. An invention by Eli Whitney, the cotton gin dries out the cotton to remove excess moisture and also to filter out unwanted debree.
Next, the fibers are run through circular saws that filter out smaller debree such as seeds that may have gotten through the first part of the process. Finally, once the cotton has completed the ginning process, it is shipped in bales weighing 500 pounds each to textile mills for fabric production. An example of a standard cotton gin is pictured below. The cotton polo that I chose for my paper went through the process of knitting. Knitting can occur on a circular machine which causes the cotton to be processed into a long tube-like fabric, or on a flat bed. Polo shirts are made using the latter process.
This is apparent because there are seams connecting the different parts of the shirt, meaning that it was not made from one continuous thread of cotton. There are other methods to transforming cotton into a fabric. Weaving is another popular method, but the fabric produced from weaving is not as flexible as the fabric produced from knitting. Below is an example of a flat bed knitting machine. Cotton is a very popular choice for clothing production. It has been used for thousands of years and many every day items that people use are also made out at least in some part of cotton.
The fabric is easy to maintain, and it is very breathable and soft when worn, making it an ideal choice for not only clothes but anything from pillows to bed sheets to medical products such as gauze. To give an example of how often cotton is used to produce clothing, over 70% of all men’s clothing is composed of the fiber. This is due to the fact that cotton is very easy to process and handle, and has many retainable qualities that keep the clothing items intact and looking like new for years if treated with a reasonable amount of care. To clean my polo, I can throw it in the washing machine and also into the dryer afterward.
Cotton has a tendency to shrink if dried for too long which is one of the only drawbacks. Cotton also has such advantages as having high absorbency, retaining dyes well, and being easy to handle and knit. Cotton is so widely used around the world that it has it has its own terms of measurement. ‘Cotton count’ is used to denote 840 yards per 1 pound of cotton. This is an unusual term of measurement because it measures the length of the cotton instead of its weight. Terms that specifically measure the weight of fibers are the denier and the tex.
These measurements apply to all fibers, not specifically cotton. One denier is approximately nine kilograms per meter, while the tex is a ninth of that total at one kilogram per meter. Different parts of the world interchangeably use these two units of measurement. The United States and England use deniers while Canada and most other parts of Europe prefer the tex unit. In conclusion, Ralph Lauren’s polo shirts are one of my favorite pieces of clothing that I currently own. They are very comfortable and easy to maintain. This is due to the versatility and quality of the cotton fiber.
Not only is it easy to maintain, but also has a fairly cheap production cost and has a huge demand among all types of consumers. That being said, it is no wonder that cotton has been at the top of the list of fibers used for clothing for thousands of years.
Works Cited Understanding Textiles Collier, Billie J. , Bide, Martin, and Tortora, Phyllis G. Understanding Textiles. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. 2001. Print. Cotton. org http://www. cotton. org/pubs/cottoncounts/fieldtofabric/uses. cfm Wikipedia http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Cotton Cotton Manufacturing http://www. oldandsold. com/articles04/textiles6. shtml