Acrylic upholstery can look amazing is certain settings and really compliment its surroundings. It's actually used as imitation wool when upholstered, but since it's a synthetic material, it has different characteristics and is more practical.
The acrylic fibre came into existence in the 1940s developed by the DuPont corporation. It is the same textile firm that invented the polyester and nylon fibres. Initially, the acrylic fibre did not get greenlit; however, its market rose in the 1950s. Despite its rise in the market, there were problems related to health and its highly flammable nature.
DuPont was once the largest producer of acrylic fibres. But now, various countries like India, Indonesia, and China have now become significant producers. The popularity of this fibre has come down in the United States over the years. However, it has opened doors for the Asian and African markets.
How is Acrylic Upholstery Made?
Acrylic fabric is made with threads of plastics. These plastic threads are an artificial polymer that is derived through the chemical process from fossil fuels. The production of acrylic fibre shares a similar production process with nylon and polyester fabrics.
• The first step involves pressure and heat where it is applied to fossil fuels, such as natural gas, coal, and petroleum. Polymerisation occurs during the process, and that leads to form plastic solutions.
• Once it is done with polymerisation, the solution turns into what’s known as a viscous form. This means the state of matter is somewhere between a liquid and a solid.
• The next step is to spin the plastic solution through spinnerets. A spinneret is a tool with different sized holes and shapes that produce the desired result. Now the viscous solution solidifies after exiting through air or water by spinning through the spinnerets.
• The following process involves washing and drying the acrylic fibers. It is then cut into short or long-length fibers.
• Now the fibers are ready for spinning into a thread. The threads are woven into a fabric, which will lead to the production of acrylic material.
Blending acrylic with other fabrics is very common and you won't often see upholstered furniture that is pure acrylic. It's most commonly blended with polyester to achieve a soft, beautiful texture with a slight sheen.
Acrylic fibre is known to share similar traits with wool fibres. It has the same feel and looks, as acrylic fabric is light, soft, and gentle to the touch. The key difference here is that wool is a natural fibre and acrylic is a synthetic fibre. Because of this, acrylic has better stain resistance than wool and is a lot easier to clean and maintain.
Acrylic is mainly blended with other materials to cut the cost. In regards to upholstery, acrylic will be blended as a secondary material, with the main material often being polyester.
Another drawback would be its highly flammable nature. Because of this, it is not favored by all. In addition, low-quality acrylic tends to pill fast and this will look very unappealing. Having said that, it's still a great material when blended with other synthetics and would be a good option if you like soft materials with a sheen to it.
This material would usually feature on a sofa, lounge, couch, or chair, and most commonly be blended with another fabric. It's actually very popular in rugs, and most of the rug can contain this material rather than being blended. This is especially the case when it comes to imitation Persian and Oriental rugs.
It would be best not to place an acrylic-covered chair in the kitchen as it is highly flammable, and it's better for usage in lounge rooms. Some commercial venues will also use this fabric blended with polyester for their lounges and booths. It has a modern look and can be dyed any colour, so it goes with a lot of styling options.
Pubs, clubs, and restaurants will often have this fabric in a variety of different colours and styles. Because it can hold up in a commercial environment, regular maintenance from a professional upholstery cleaning company can keep the furniture looking amazing all year round.