This paper provides information on the history, development, and today use of metallic fibers in the textile and design industry. This paper will reveal Information on how metallic fibers were discovered and the growth of its popularity. Single-component metallic fibers for textile usage are fine drawn filaments of metal which can be spun and woven on normal textile machinery. Gold and silver have been used in design since ancient times, when these glowing hues were used to signify nobility and status. Today in the design world, metallic fibers are created into beautiful works of art from wall displays, light fixtures, flooring, and fabrics.
The history of metallic fibers is about 3000 years old. In fact, the first man-made fibers used in textiles were not nylon or rayon but silver and gold (L. Guo, 2016). Metallic Fibers are used for many different types of elements in design and textiles. For interior design, metallic finishes are a distinctive element in interior décor. Timeless in their approach, metals are easy to incorporate and can be the perfect touch for interior design.
History of Metallic Fibers
Metallic fibers were popular from the beginning, along with silver and golds. Metallic fibers are also known as Zari, particularly in India. Metallic yarns or threads such as gold and silver have been used since ancient times as decoration in the clothing and textiles of kings, leaders, nobility and people of status (A., 2010). Many of these elegant textiles can be found in museums around the world. Because of their unique and admiring shimmery, they were mostly untouchable to the lower working class. Metallic fibers were made artificially in times past and were first of many. Historically, the metallic thread was constructed by wrapping a metal strip around a fiber core (cotton or silk), often in such a way as to reveal the color of the fiber core to enhance the visual quality of the decoration (A., 2010). Ancient textiles and fabric woven from wholly or partly gold threads is sometimes referred to as Cloth of Gold (A., 2010). Metallic Fibers can be used in many different areas of textiles, but are most frequently used in brocade and lame fabrics. Brocade fabric is as rich and antique as the history of metallic fibers. As research shows, its name comes from the Italian word broccato, meaning “embossed cloth.” The first brocade fabrics were woven in the Byzantine Empire and coincided with the European discovery of silk in the 6th century (Benita, ‘Cloth of Gold’). Colored silk with the gold and silver accents and patterns, is what made this fabric so treasured by nobility for centuries.
How Metallic Fibers Are Developed
These metal filaments were made by beating soft metals and alloys, such as gold, silver, copper and bronze, into thin sheets, and then cutting the sheets into narrow ribbon-like filaments (Desai, 2015). These filaments were used to embellish the décor of a space that could not be accomplished by any other means. Used for big or small purposes, metallic fiber elements always meet the requirements for the finishing touch. They were expensive to produce; they tended to be inflexible and stiff, and the ribbon-like cross-section provided cutting edges that made for a harsh, rough handle; they were troublesome to knit or weave, and they had only a limited resistance to abrasion (Desai, 2015). Gold was cherished more sought after, because metal would tend to dull over time. However, these ribbon-like filaments continue their popularity to this present day. The development of modern techniques of surface-protection has brought cheaper metals into use; aluminum foil, for example, may be anodized and dyed before being slit into filaments which are colorful and corrosion-resistant. Ribbon-filaments are now manufactured in considerable quantity, e.g. as tinsel, but they remain an essentially decorative material (Desai, 2015). The filaments lack strength and will wear over time; they lack flexibility and give. Brocade textiles are created by embroidery-like techniques when being woven. Woven using Jacquard looms, brocades were typically adorned with precious and semi-precious stones, but it is now more common to see designers incorporate sequins and complex beading designs into the fabrics (Benita, ‘Cloth of Gold’). Brocades tend to be a heavy fabric but as for lame, it is liked for its elegant and beautiful drape. Gold or Silver lame can be either knit or woven with metallic fibers.
Types of Metallic Fibers
The following are the types of Metallic yarn commonly produced today: Acetate Butyrate, Aluminum Foil, Cellophane Aluminum Foil, Polyester, Aluminum Foil, Polyester, Aluminum Metallized Polyester, Polyester, Aluminum Metallized, Non-Laminated (Desai, 2015). There are many types of filaments being used in textiles, but only a few are cheaper to produce than others. Depending on the current trends and what fibers are used to create these designs, depends on the targeted fibers used in producing.
In the design world today, many textile manufacturers that are producing metallic fabrics have become more reliable on aluminum and stainless steel, rather than Gold and Silver. Manufactures save more and spend less by manufacturing the aluminum and stainless steel. Gold is known and used for its color which is a shimmering yellow, symbolizing wealth. Silver is simply the color of aluminum, still a symbol of money and importance. Other colors such as bronze, peacock blue and red are obtained by using the suitable pigment (Desai, 2015). Other colors or multi-colored effects are used and produced differently in the woven process.
Structure and Properties of Metallic Fibers
Metallic fibers are flat, ribbon-like filaments, commonly 3.2-0.2 mm (1/8-1/128 in) width (Desai, 2015). These fibers are smooth and clear surfaced and can be colored or uncolored if necessary. Metallic fibers are not affected by salt water atmospheres. Metallic Fibers are also sensitive to high temperatures, along with any type of iron or steam. Properties of Metal Yarns: Highly conductive, light weight, flexible, antistatic behavior, and cut resistant (Hulle, 2014). Metallic fabrics should be handled with care and professionally cleaned if needed.
Metallized Fibers in Use
Because the advancement of modern day techniques, cheaper metallic fibers can be used in textile applications. The surface-protected metallic fibers, such as anodized and dyed aluminum filaments that are manufactured not only have colorful appearance but also corrosion resistance (L. Guo, 2016). The most common application of metallic fibers is in making upholstery fabrics like lame and brocade which are then used for making luxurious curtains, sofa covers, etc. Steel fibers are used in making carpets where they are dispersed along with other fibers (Hulle, 2014). These yarns are also managed in smart textiles. Metallic fibers are used in many ways, for example, embellishments in drapes, pillows, upholstery, lamp shades, and even to conduct textiles. In today’s design’s, Designer’s are using metallic features from the floor to the ceiling. Metal can be used in just about any design form, from an artistic sculpture, to a side table. Metal is generally used in an industrial style theme room, but now may appear in all themes. The scale for this type of fiber is almost unlimited when come to Interior Design. From threads, to panels, to the chair you sit in, metallic fibers can be incorporated in just about any element. As the years go by and the design trends come and go, metallic fibers always seem to be present no matter the era.
As metallic yarns are mostly used for decorating purposes and do not add any significates to the strength of the actual fabric. Nevertheless, they may be used as weft or warp yarns, and are strong enough to withstand the weaving, and knitting operations (Desai 2015). If it becomes necessary, the metallic yarns may be combined with support yarns, such as nylon. The plastic film of the metallic yarn is flexible, and the yarns are extensible to a degree that depends upon the type (Desai 2015). Aluminum will eventually ruin and tarnish overtime, possibly by seawater, but in metallic fibers it is well preserved. The chemical performance resisting in metallic fibers is the exact same resistance in the plastic film. Polyester films are extraordinarily resistant. If metallic fibers are held in contact with strong alkaline solutions for long periods of time, the aluminum will be attacked at the unprotected edges of the ribbon. Therefore, Metallic should not be held to alkaline reagents with significant strength. Organic solvents, too, may attack the laminate adhesive or lacquer coating; great care should be taken in dry cleaning to ensure that an appropriate type of solvent is used (Desai 2015). Because the plastic films in metallic fibers are thermoplastic, they easily elevated temperatures. Splitting of fibers may occur if the fibers are heated, and acetate type fibers that should only be at low temperatures will be affected. Special effects may possibly be introduced into fibers by permanently embossing with heat and pressure.
As you can see, metallic fibers have a wide range of use for the design world. Besides aesthetic effects, they also provide stability to the structure of the textiles produced from the metallic fibers. For Interior Design, metallic fibers can be used from wallpapers, to metal worked into flooring, drapes, pillows, or even acoustic panels for a commercial design. Metallic fibers in Interior Design will most likely be a fiber that is always in use, no matter the day of age.