Sisal fibres are made from the leaves of the agave plant and thus belong to the family of leaf fibres. They have a cellulose content of 55–65 % and a lignin content of 10–20 %. This makes the fibre tougher and coarser compared to bast fibres such as hemp and flax. Sisal fibres usually come in fibre bundles and are up to 4 m in length and 200–500 µm in diameter. Hence, sisal is processed as fibre bundles and mainly used in cables, ropes and cords. Due to its good mechanical properties, sisal is also experiencing growing popularity for use in fibre/plastic composites.
In the first step (breaking up the fibres), the sisal fibres are mechanically separated from the rest of the leaf tissue. Then, as with other natural fibres, a water retting process is carried out to decompose and wash out the pectins. After drying, the sisal fibres are finally cleaned by heckling (combing).
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