Synthetic Material: What It Is and Why It’s Taking Over the World

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 19, 2022
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Looking for a material that’s cheap, lightweight, and durable? Chances are you’ve heard of synthetic material. But what exactly is it?

Synthetic material is man-made and created by humans, as opposed to naturally occurring materials like cotton or wool. It’s used to create a wide range of products, from clothing to building materials.

Did you know that synthetic materials are found in over 60% of clothing sold globally? In this article, I’ll explore what synthetic material is, how it’s made, and why it’s so commonly used. Plus, I’ll share some interesting facts about synthetic materials that you might not have known.

What is synthetic material

Exploring the Wide Variety of Synthetic Materials

Synthetic materials are man-made products that are designed to mimic natural materials. There are four main types of synthetic materials:

  • Nylon: This lightweight material is commonly used in making clothing, bags, and other products. It is similar to silk in its fine form and is strong and durable, making it a popular substitute for natural materials like leather.
  • Polyester: This material is widely used in the fashion world, mainly because it is cheaper than natural materials like cotton. It is also able to hold its colour well, even after many washes.
  • Rayon: This synthetic material is made from wood pulp and is used to make a wide variety of products, including clothing, bed sheets, and safety equipment. It has a nice hand and is often used as a substitute for silk.
  • Acrylic: This material is often used to make special products like safety equipment and outdoor gear. It is strong and durable, and it can be made to resemble natural materials like wool.

The Positive and Negative Aspects of Synthetic Materials

Synthetic materials have a lot of positive aspects, including:

  • They are generally cheaper than natural materials.
  • They are available in a wide variety of colours and styles.
  • They can be finely tuned to meet specific needs, such as the tension and length of the material.
  • They are often combined with other materials to create new products.

However, there are also some negative aspects to consider, such as:

  • They lack the natural feel of real materials.
  • They may not be able to serve the same safety or properly function as natural materials.
  • They can be difficult to work with and process.

Choosing the Right Synthetic Material

When choosing a synthetic material, it depends on what you need it for. Here are some key things to consider:

  • The level of safety required for the product.
  • The processing and handling of the material.
  • The scientific research available on the material.
  • The feel and texture of the material.
  • The cost of the material.
  • The country of origin of the material.

Despite their differences, synthetic materials can be a great substitute for natural materials in many different applications. With a little bit of research and learning, you can convert to using synthetic materials and start enjoying their many benefits.

The Natural Benefits of Synthetic Fibres

Synthetic fibres are highly durable and resist wear and tear. They can sustain heavy loads and maintain their shape even after exposure to running water or hot temperatures. Unlike natural fibres, synthetic fibres do not wrinkle easily and can be easily stretched out without losing their elasticity. This makes them ideal for everyday wear and building materials.

Cheaper and Better

Compared to natural fibres, synthetic fibres are cheaper and offer better value for money. They are highly efficient and can be easily converted into a variety of products, including clothing, fabrics, and building materials. Synthetic fibres are also highly colorfast, making them ideal for dyeing and creating brilliant, bright colors that resist fading even after exposure to sunlight.

Resistance to Forces

Synthetic fibres are strong and resist external forces such as wind and water. They are highly resistant to binding and can maintain their shape even after exposure to heavy loads. This makes them ideal for use in industries such as textile manufacturing, where they can be used to create highly durable and resistant fabrics.

Soft and Comfortable

Despite their strength and durability, synthetic fibres are soft and comfortable to wear. They are ideal for use in clothing materials, where they can provide a high-class look and feel without the high cost of natural fibres. Synthetic fibres are also highly resistant to dry and wet conditions, making them ideal for use in a variety of everyday products.

The Dark Side of Synthetic Fibres

Synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon are produced from oil, a non-renewable resource. The production of these materials requires a tremendous amount of energy, which is often derived from coal. This process releases harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Additionally, synthetic fibres do not biodegrade, meaning they will sit in landfills for thousands of years, causing damage to the environment.

Health Concerns

Synthetic fibres do not absorb moisture, which can lead to skin irritation and other health issues. When synthetic fibres catch fire, they can shrink and form beads that stick to the skin, causing serious burns. Additionally, synthetic fibres can contain finishes and chemicals that are harmful to sensitive individuals.

Fashion Industry Impact

Synthetic fibres are widely used in the fashion industry because they are affordable and easy to produce. However, this comes at a cost to the environment and to the people who produce them. The fast fashion industry, in particular, relies heavily on synthetic fibres, leading to a higher demand for oil and other non-renewable resources. This also results in a build-up of textile waste in landfills.

Choosing Sustainable Alternatives

While synthetic fibres may be a cheap and easy choice, it’s important to consider the negative implications they bring. There are sustainable alternatives to synthetic fibres, such as natural materials like cotton, linen, and wool. Vintage clothing is also a great option, as it reduces the need for new production and the use of non-renewable resources. Look for specific brands that prioritize sustainable and ethical production practices. By choosing these alternatives, we can protect the environment and support a more sustainable fashion industry.


So, synthetic materials are man-made materials that are made from chemicals and don’t occur naturally. They’re used for a variety of things, from clothing to building materials, and they’re much better than natural materials in some ways, but not in others. You just have to decide what’s right for you.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.