What are the Benefits, Drawbacks, and Various Uses of Silk?
Silk is a natural protein fiber that is produced by insects such as silkworms, honey bees, weaver ants, hornets, weaver ants, and many more as a material for their nest and cocoons. Silk is primarily made of a protein called fibroin. Especially, for its shine and softness, silk is considered the strongest natural textile in the world.
Many years ago, silk has been referred to as the “Queen of Textiles”. It is considered the most luxurious fabric both in look and feel. Silk is a continuous protein filament that is secreted by particular types of insects commonly known as silkworms. Many insects are capable of producing silk which includes beetles, hornets, bumble bees, weaver ants, and many more. Most commonly, the silk is made by the larvae of moths, which are also known as caterpillars. Silk fibers are found in the cocoons of these moth larvae. The larvae make cocoons before they grow as pupates and emerge as moths. These cocoons are made of one long silk fiber that the larvae produce using their saliva. Approximately, a strand of silk from a cocoon is about 300 to 900 meters long. China dominated the silk industry for many years and initially, the material was reserved for the emperor. Eventually, silk production moved to Korea, Thailand, India, and Europe.
Less initial investment and more profit for farmers are the major factors that are expected to fortify the growth of the global silk market in the approaching years. The market is anticipated to garner a revenue of $34,102.5 million and rise at a CAGR of 8.2% during the analysis timeframe from 2022 to 2031. The major players of the market include AMSilk GmbH, EntoGenetics inc., Anhui Silk Co. Ltd., Sichuan Nanchong Liuhe (Group) Corp., and many more.
What are the Pros and Cons of Silk Fabric?
Silk is widely known for its beautiful drape and absorbent nature along with various other positive attributes which are discussed below:
- Strength and Durability: It is one of the strongest natural fibers, however, some of its strength reduces when getting wet. Often silk is blended with other fibers such as cotton to add more sturdiness.
- Elasticity: The flexibility of silk makes it ideal for various garments and padding or cushioning.
- Absorbency: It is one of the most absorbent fabrics, therefore, it handles moisture well in clothing items. Texture: Due to its incredible softness and shiny texture, silk delivers a high-end and luxurious appeal.
Some Drawbacks of Silk:
- Shrinkage: Silk fabric usually shrinks in the wash, so, silk should always be dry-cleaned.
- Static Cling: As the material does not conduct electricity well, it can experience a lot of static.
What are the Primary Uses of Silk Fabric?
Silk is basically used in garments and household items, but it can also be employed in a wide range of applications such as in bicycle tires and even in medicines too. Silk is always considered the best clothing for summer because of its absorbent nature; however, it is also a staple for winter wear as it has low conductive properties. Some of the common uses of silk are discussed below:
- Ties and Scarves: Because of the strength and availability of different shades of silk, it is ideal for accessories. Many high-end ties are made from heavy silk. This is because silk allows tightly woven patterns, durability, and rich color availability. Moreover, silk is also a great material for scarves to provide warmth, and sometimes it is also used for decoration.
- Upholstery: Silk is used for covering furniture and pillows because of its strength and durability. This property of silk provides a long-lasting covering.
- Parachutes: Initially, silk is used for parachutes due to its elastic property. However, nowadays, nylon is more commonly used today for making parachutes.
- Wall Hangings: As silk is a beautiful material and dynamically reacts with colors and dyes, therefore, various wall hangings are often woven from the silk.
- Bridal and Formal Wear: Nowadays, silk is broadly used to make beautiful dresses, gowns, shirts, pants, and much more apparel to deliver a lustrous appearance.
- Bedding: In luxury hotels, and royal families, silk bedsheets are used for bedding to deliver the height of comfort. This is mainly because silk is extremely soft and absorbent.
Why is Silk So Shiny?
One of the most appealing characteristics of silk is its shimmering appearance. But the question is where does the silk get this shine from? Silk is made up of proteins. It is composed of two proteins, fibroin, and sericin. Fibroin is the protein that is responsible for the sheening property of silk. Fibroin is the main component of silk. The fibroin molecules stack in sheets and form a long tube that resembles a triangular shape. The flat and smooth surfaces of the triangular prism-like structure make silk reflect in many directions and produce different colors when light falls on it and this makes silk cloth appear shiny.
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