SIC 2221

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in the production of woven fabrics more than 12 inches (30.48 centimeters) in width, wholly or chiefly by weight of manmade fiber and/or silk. Broadwoven fabrics primarily of manmade fiber are used in three general end-product categories: apparel, home furnishings, and industrials. Broadwoven fabrics primarily of silk are for the most part used in apparel products. Occasionally, broadwoven silk fabrics serve the home furnishings market.

Production of broadwoven fabrics with content wholly or primarily by weight of cotton is included in SIC 2211: Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Cotton. Production of broadwoven fabrics with content wholly or chiefly by weight of wool, mohair, or other similar animal fiber is included in SIC 2231: Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool (Including Dyeing and Finishing). Production of narrow fabric, generally 12 inches or less in width, of cotton, wool, silk, and manmade fiber is included in SIC 2241: Narrow Fabric and Other Smallwares Mills: Cotton, Wool, Silk, and Manmade Fiber.

NAICS Code(s)

313210 (Broadwoven Fabric Mills)

Industry Snapshot

Broadwoven manmade fiber fabrics are used extensively in the textile and industrial sectors of U.S. manufacturing. Global production of manmade fiber reached 34.2 metric tons in 2000, an increase of 130 percent from 15 million tons produced in 1980. Polyester accounted for over one-half of all fiber production, with 18.9 tons, up from 35 percent of all fibers produced in 1980 to 56 percent in 2000. During the same period, nylon fell from 22 percent of fiber production to 12 percent, and cellulosic fibers dropped from 22 percent to just 6 percent. Along with polyester, olefin showed substantial growth, from 7 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 2000.

In 1980 North American and European facilities produced 34 percent and 28 percent of all synthetic fibers, respectively; however, by 2000, Asia dominated fiber production, holding 61 percent of the market, whereas the North American market share fell to 18 percent. Europe's production fell to 15 percent of the world supply.

Between 1979 and 1999, manmade fiber production of polyester and olefin increased in the United States by 15.6 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively. The overall growth rate of the manmade fiber industry reflected a healthy 2.6 percent annual increase during the 1990s but was adversely affected by the Asian economic crisis during the latter half of the decade, resulting in a surge of fiber imports into the United States.

Principal fibers used in broadwoven manmade fiber fabrics for apparel are polyester, rayon, and nylon with an increasing use of olefin fiber. These fabrics are generally used for men's, ladies', and children's outerwear, including shirts, blouses, pants, and dresses; leisure and active-wear; heavy and lightweight jackets and coats; suits; and sleepwear and lingerie.

The home furnishings market for manmade broadwoven fabrics includes sheets, pillowcases, blankets, bedspreads, and other bedding accessories; table linens or napery products; draperies; upholstery fabrics; and wall coverings. The principal manmade fibers used in home furnishings are polyester, rayon, polypropylene, acrylic, and occasionally nylon. Carpet and rug manufacturers are discussed in SIC 2273: Carpets and Rugs.

Industrial applications for broadwoven manmade fibers include materials used in the automotive, agricultural, geotextile, medical, recreational, and transportation industries. Broadwoven manmade fiber fabrics also find use in conveyor and other industrial belting products, as well as in specialized applications such as soft-sided luggage and protective clothing. Tire cord and fabric production is included in SIC 2296: Tire Cord and Fabrics.

Broadwoven fabrics of manmade fiber for industrial applications are made from the widest variety of fiber types. Traditional manmade fibers such as nylon, polyester, acrylic, polypropylene or olefin, and rayon find numerous uses in the area of industrial fabrics. A number of industrial applications products, however, require the characteristics of some specialized manmade fibers. Some of these fibers include the aramid family with such fibers as Nomex and Kevlar, both manufactured by DuPont. Nomex is highly flame resistant, and fabrics manufactured from this fiber are used in such products as protective clothing for firefighting, space exploration, and racing. Kevlar, with strength characteristics superior to steel, can be found in fabrics manufactured for bulletproof vests and other protective devices.

Other manmade fibers with high-performance characteristics for use in specialized applications and their major producers include carbon fiber (BASF and Courtaulds); glass fiber (Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp. and PPG Industries Inc.); polybenzimidazole (KoSa); polyetheretherketone (Albany International and Shakespeare Monofilament); and sulfur (Albany International and Phillips Fibers Corp.).

Of the numerous producers of traditional manmade fibers that are used in broadwoven fabrics, some of the principal U.S. producers are Eastman Chemical Products Inc. (acetate); Mann Industries and Monsanto (acrylic); Albany International, Allied Fibers, BASF Corp., Hercules Inc., and Phillips Fibers Corp. (olefin polypropylene); Courtaulds Fibers Inc. and North American Rayon Corp. (rayon); and Globe Mfg. Co. (spandex).

Organization and Structure

Producers of broadwoven fabrics of manmade fiber and silk, like the producers of other broadwoven fabrics, are for the most part vertically integrated textile manufacturing companies; that is, most broadwoven companies manufacture their own yarn requirements. Many of them also dye and finish their own fabrics.

Aside from the many different generic types of manmade fiber—including polyester, nylon, and rayon—and the different brands within each generic type—including Du Pont's Dacron, Eastman's Kodel, and KoSa's Trevira—fabrics may be woven from two forms of manmade fiber yarn: filament or staple. Filament yarn is a continuous strand of manmade fiber. Staple manmade fiber yarn consists of many individual fibers cut to a specific length. These fibers measure approximately one to oneand-a-half inches in length, if they are to be spun into yarn on a cotton system spinning process. If they are to be spun on a woolen or worsted system spinning process, the fibers are cut up to six or eight inches in length. The form of manmade fiber yarn to be woven depends on the end-use application of the fabric. Staple fiber arrives at the textile plant in bales, just like cotton or wool. It is processed just like cotton or wool on the same machinery.

Of the billions of square yards of manmade fiber and silk broadwoven fabric woven from the mid- to late 1990s, more than half was produced using 85 percent or more of continuous filament yarn. The percentage of manmade fiber broadwoven fabrics produced from continuous filament yarn has trended upward since 1980, when this type represented 37 percent of the 10.7 billion square yards produced. In 1988 the amount of the manmade fiber broadwoven fabric produced from continuous filament yarn reached 50 percent for the first time. Consumption of filament fiber by broadwoven manmade fabric producers has remained at or above this level since that time.

Background and Development

A discussion of weaving systems types and the emergence of shuttleless weaving as the most efficient, productive, and quality producing system can be found in SIC 2211: Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Cotton. All of the shuttleless weaving systems—projectile, rigid and flexible rapier, and air-jet—described in the broadwoven cotton fabrics section are in use in weaving broadwoven fabrics from manmade fiber and silk. Producers of many styles of broadwoven manmade fiber fabrics can also use the water-jet system of weaving as well. This system requires the yarn to be hydrophobic—the fiber must not absorb moisture, the styles must be relatively simple in construction, and the material must be relatively light in weight, so that a stream of water can carry the yarn across the weaving machine. Most manmade fibers are hydrophobic, with rayon and its variants being the notable exceptions.

Water-jet weaving machines are manufactured by Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Tsudakoma Corp. of Japan, and Zbrojovka-Vsetin of the Czech Republic. Water-jet weaving machines operate at a production rate of more than 1,000 ppm, which is more than 500 percent faster than conventional shuttle weaving systems, approximately 200 percent faster than projectile and both rapier systems, and at least 25 percent faster than the average air-jet weaving machine.

As a group (and aside from competition within the group) producers of broadwoven fabrics of manmade fiber and silk faced two types of competition for market share, especially in the apparel sector and, to a lesser extent, in the home furnishings market. The two types of competition were fabrics and garments imported from developing countries and a trend toward increasing consumer preference for products made from natural fibers.

Increasing consumer preference for products made from natural fibers, including cotton and wool, stems from several factors. The first of these is marketing and promotional campaigns conducted by Cotton Incorporated, an organization sponsored and paid for by the cotton growers of the United States. Formed in 1971 in an attempt to offset the huge gains in market share being made by polyester, the organization's purpose is to promote the use of cotton in fabrics. Since its formation, cotton has increased its U.S. market share at the expense of manmade fiber in production of broadwoven fabrics every year. With headquarters and marketing offices in New York and research facilities in Raleigh, North Carolina, Cotton Incorporated's principal means of promoting cotton as a fiber of choice in broadwoven fabrics were a massive television campaign, "The Fabric of Our Lives," and the use of the cotton bowl logo in products made of 100 percent cotton or the cotton-blend logo in products made of at least 60 percent cotton. In a recognition survey of 12 leading product logos among consumers in 1993, the cotton logo was deemed the second most recognizable logo, behind the Shell Oil Co. logo. The survey found that the cotton logo was more recognizable than such logos as those of CBS, Chrysler, Dutch Boy, Merrill Lynch, Prudential, Maxwell House, Kodak, and Wrigley's.

The second factor playing a part in decreasing market share among manmade fiber broadwovens compared to natural fiber broadwovens has to do with increasing environmental concerns among consumers. Most manmade fibers are produced in chemical plants from a variety of chemicals with inherent potential for contributing to environmental problems. Few, if any, fiber producers violated any environmental regulations, but the perception of potential problems is a factor producers of manmade fiber fabrics face.

The third factor playing a part in decreasing market share among manmade fiber broadwovens is the minimization, if not elimination, of what has historically been the major objection to broadwoven fabrics of cotton. With current capabilities that reduce wrinkles in cotton fabrics and make the products more in the line of "easy care" or "wash-and-wear" polyester products, cotton fabric producers have taken a giant step toward attracting additional consumers. The makers of manmade fabrics have responded by improving existing fabrics and creating new products. Lycra has been adapted to include some cotton-like attributes—breathability and washability—while providing excellent stretchability. Lycra was especially important in the marketing of garments constructed of manmade fibers, when manufacturers promoted the "high-tech" look of stretch twills and suitings. The relatively new microdernier fabrics, although they were initially very expensive, are also expected to become popular for their easy care, breathability, and dense, soft characteristics. Specialty fabrics such as DuPont's CoolMax polyester and Cordura Plus nylon were being introduced into apparel manufacturing.

Production of broadwoven fabric reached 16.4 billion square yards in 1997, up almost 4 percent over 1996 levels. Manmade fiber fabrics increased nearly 2 percent. Although production gains in cotton and wool broadwoven fabrics were realized, manmade fibers and silk broadwoven fabric remained the leader in the market.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 452 establishments were engaged in the production of manmade fiber and/or silk broadwoven fabrics in the United States in 1997. These establishments had total employment of 77,129 people. More than 85 percent (or a total of 65,687 people) were involved directly with the production of these broadwoven fabrics. Total payroll was more than $2 billion, and the value of shipments exceeded $10.6 billion.

Mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and joint ventures were avenues manufacturers of broadwoven fabrics took to become more productive, efficient, and profitable. Companies continued to modernize and expand their facilities, spending $2 billion a year for capital investments.

Manufacturers targeted 3 to 4 percent of corporate sales for capital expenditures. One new piece of equipment replaced 5 or 10, or more, older machines performing similar tasks. Evolving technology in equipment and production techniques and development and improvement of end-use applications were the focus for manufacturers of broadwoven fabric, manmade fiber, and silk through the end of the 1990s and into the twenty-first century.

Three agreements that affected producers of manmade fiber and silk broadwoven fabrics were the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the American Textile Partnership (AMTEX). The first two are agreements between the United States government and governments of other countries, while the third is an agreement between the United States government and the United States textile/apparel complex.

The third agreement—AMTEX—between the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. textile/apparel complex provides research and existing government technologies to boost U.S. competitiveness. In 1997 the following projects were in progress as joint industry-DOE efforts.

Computer-Aided Fabric Evaluation (CAFE). This technology is used for computer vision target recognition systems that can tell the difference between military and civilian aircraft or vehicles. It is also used for high-speed inspection systems that detect pattern and color defects in U.S. currency and postage stamps. Through AMTEX, this technology could be used to detect and classify defects, as hundreds of square yards of fabric per minute "fly by" an inspection system.

Cotton Biotechnology. Researchers sought to improve cotton fiber performance and plant yield, with the result of developing longer, stronger, and more uniform plant fibers.

Electronic Embedded Fingerprints. Tiny electronic microchips and radio transponders were developed by the DOE to permanently identify or tag missiles or items that were to be controlled under international treaties. While current devices were about the size of a penny, AMTEX proposed to develop a smaller version about the size of a grain of rice. It would include a small radio transmitter and would be packaged for permanent encasement in apparel or other products counterfeited in foreign markets.

Online Process Control (OPCon). AMTEX was working to identify and develop technologies that would allow for faster transitions between products, cost effective production of small lots, and eliminate off-quality productions and off-line testing.

Rapid Cutting. The government invested in developing high-power lasers for the Strategic Defense Initiative program, isotope separation, and scientific investigations. These technologies would be to create a new generation of high-speed cutting machines 10 to 20 times faster than previous machines. This improvement would allow both small and large companies to enter the era of demand-activated-manufacturing and custom apparel manufacturing.

Sensors for Agile Manufacturing (SFAM). The AMTEX partnership was developing sensors and feedback control methods to increase the industry's productivity, flexibility, and sewing safety.

Textile Resource Conservation (TReC). Methods were being developed for eliminating the discharge of waste into the environment. Manufacturing processes were being revised to use less energy and natural resources.

Current Conditions

The manmade fiber industry struggled since the late 1990s to deal with the effects of the Asian economic crisis that resulted in an influx of low-cost imports into the United States. The industry was also adversely affected by increased costs of raw materials. During 2001 domestic polyester fiber demand fell by nearly 15 percent and grew only 2 percent in Asia, but it rebounded to normal ranges during 2002. Asian prices began to climb during 2002, fueling hopes among U.S. companies that imports from the region will be reduced, and domestic demand will increase. Profitability would likely be aided by a decrease in U.S. production capacity, which was expected to keep supply and demand in balance, as demand for domestic product rose. Industry leaders Well-man and KoSa idled a combined 440 million pounds per year of polyester production capacity in 2002. The United States also hoped to improve its price competitiveness after 2003, when tariffs would be lifted on purified terephthalic feedstock, purchased by the U.S. producers solely from Canadian suppliers.

Industry Leaders

Du Pont, based in Wilmington, Delaware, is the world's largest producer of synthetic fibers, with 1.21 million tons per year in 2002 (not including olefin and aramid). In 2002 the company, which also has extensive interests in agricultural chemicals, announced its plans to spin off Du Pont Textiles and Interiors as a separate company by the end of 2003. Nan Ya Plastics Corp. of America, based in Lake City, South Carolina, was a subsidiary of Nan Ya, which, in turn, was owned by Formosa Plastics of Taiwan. KoSa, a Houston-based company, was the successor to the German-based Hoechst-Celanese Fibers and one of the largest polyester producers in the world. Other U.S.-based polyester operations are Acordis Industrial Fibers, Inc.; Cedar Creek LLC; Foss Manufacturing Company, Inc.; Honeywell; Intercontinental Polymers, Inc.; Martin Color-Fi; Nan Ya Plastics Corp.; Palmetto Synthetics; Universal Fiber Systems, LLC; and Wellman, Inc. Major nylon producers are BASF Corporation; Du Pont; Fiber Innovation Technology, Inc.; Honeywell; Nylstar, Inc.; Palmetto Synthetics; Solutia Inc.; UnifiSans Technical Fibers, LLC; Universal Fiber Systems, LLC; and Wellman, Inc.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, textile mills specializing in manmade fibers and silks employed 45,490 people in 2001. The mean hourly wage was $13.97 (median was $12.03). Just over 4 percent of total employment was in management positions, with chief executive officers and sales managers possessing the highest mean annual salaries of $116,730 and $103,900, respectively. Production occupations accounted for 65 percent of total employment.

America and the World

The Asian financial crisis continued to adversely affect the textile industry through the late 1990s, with the manmade fabric segment being hit particularly hard. From 1997 through 1998, overall imports of fabrics from Asia increased 35 percent. During that same period manmade fiber fabric imports from Asia increased by 51 percent. In 1999 the U.S. Commerce Department reported that prices for imports from Asia continued to fall, with imports of Asian fabrics dropping 6.5 percent in price.

In 1998 overall textile imports from Asia increased to 6.6 billion square meter equivalents (sme). Three of the countries showing large gains in textile imports to the United States were Thailand, at an increase of 37 percent; Pakistan, at 36 percent; and Japan, at 30 percent. Conversely, U.S. exports to these regions fell 30 percent, 35 percent, and 25 percent respectively. Total U.S. exports to the region were down 24 percent to $853 million.

The signing of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT) proved an obstacle for manufacturers of broadwoven, manmade, and silk fabrics. Known as the Uruguay Round of GATT, the agreement was signed in 1993 by 117 nations following seven years of negotiations. This agreement phased out tariffs on textiles set by the Multi Fiber Arrangement (MFA) by 2005. In January 1995 the administration and enforcement of GATT was assumed by the World Trade Organization. Representatives from the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) and the American Apparel Manufacturers Association (AAMA) in 1999, urged government action to eliminate large imbalances in market accessibility by getting all countries to fully implement their commitments to the agreement reached in the Uruguay Round.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect January 1, 1994, and proved beneficial to manufacturers of manmade and silk broadwoven fabrics. In 1998 Mexico was the largest exporter of apparel to the United States. Mexican export levels rose to 2 billion square meter equivalents (sme) and because more than two-thirds of Mexican apparel exports contained U.S. yarn and fabric, U.S. textile exports to Mexico reached a record $4.5 billion.

In 2000 President Clinton signed into law the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act of 2000, known as the Caribbean Basin Initiative, which allows apparel imports from the Caribbean to qualify for both duty-free and quota-free treatment, if U.S. fabric made from U.S. yarn and U.S. thread were used.

According to DNR, 7 of the 11 biggest global producers of synthetic fibers (not including olefin and aramid) are based in Asia: Nan Ya Plastics, Taiwan, which has a U.S.-based subsidiary Nan Ya Plastics Corporation of America; Hualon Corp., Taiwan; Sinopec, China; Huvis Corp., South Korea; Far Eastern Textiles Ltd., Taiwan; Teijin, Japan; and Yizheng, China. Reliance Industries Ltd. in India is also among the world's top producers, as are U.S. companies E. I. du Pont Nemours and KoSa.

Research and Technology

Textile mills used computerization of the industry to develop quick response programs (QR) that shortened the time between the placement of retail orders and the delivery of textile goods to stores. Communicating through the use of bar codes and electronics data interchange enabled companies to use the information to direct production. Reduction in inventory costs benefited the textile mills along with apparel manufacturers and retailers.

October 1998 saw the introduction of a new electronic database designed as an information gathering center between the U.S. textile industry and its suppliers. The Voluntary Product Environmental Profile (VPEP) is an effort to make the exchange of important information relating to the environment, health, and safety more efficient. In addition to facilitating a more efficient exchange of data between manufacturers and their suppliers, it provides information required for regulatory compliance and aids them in making better environmental decisions about their operations.

Textile companies were concentrating efforts to deliver the right designs at the right time, so they purchased new and expanded computer-aided design (CAD) equipment in 1999. The design computers were up to 10 times faster than the old systems. Manufacturers saw the digital printing system, which included a wide-format printer capable of printing rolls of fabric up to 60 inches wide, and specially formulated inks and software, as a means to cost reduction.

The Internet was introduced into the textile world as an additional means of product distribution at the close of 1999. The e-commerce for fabrics allowed buyers to search a large database of fabrics and place orders for them online. The database contained digital images of sample yardage sent by the manufacturers with detailed product specifications included at the Web site.

The manufacturers of broadwoven manmade and silk fabrics were able to reach a worldwide market of prospective buyers through the use of the Internet. Marketing experts expected business-to-business e-commerce to be 10 to 20 times greater than that of the business-to-consumer market.

The manmade fiber industry is constantly on the cutting edge of technology, as companies try to improve fabrics to compete both within the manmade fiber industry as well as against the natural fiber industry.

Further Reading

Addis, Karen K. "U.S. and European Textile and Apparel Industries Urge Government Action to Gain Market Access to Address Trade Imbalances," 14 July 1999. Available from .

American Textile Manufacturers Institute. "Study Shows 'Yarn-Forward' Caribbean Basin Initiative Trade Legislation Would Benefit Industry," 20 September 1999. Available from .

Brown, Robert. "U.S. Polyester Fiber Market Faces Pressures as Asia Remains Strong." Chemical Market Reporter, 7 May 2001.

Gross, Elaine. "Commodity No More: Polyester Leads with Innovation." Textile World, November 2001.

Grudier, Alison. "CAD Developers Gear up for Y2K," 27 December 1999. Available from .

"High Fiber." DNR, 23 September 2002.

Miller, Hannah. "Imports Swamp U.S. Textile Industry." International Fiber Journal, April 1999. Available from .

Peck, Hwee Sim. "Rising Costs Prompt Polyester Price Increases." Chemical Week, 17 April 2002.

Raiman, Gail. "U.S. Textile Industry Hit Hard by Flood of Low-cost Asian Imports," 23 February 1999. Available from .

Reichard, Robert S. "Polyester Heads Up." Textile World, June 2002.

Rocha, Eduardo. "Fiber Producers Confront the Future." International Fiber Journal, October 2000. Available from .

Smith, William C. "Industrial Textiles Thrive through Technology," 6 May 1999. Available from .

Standard & Poor's Industry Surveys. New York: Standard & Poor's Corporation, 1999.

U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2001 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. Available from .

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