Providing 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 over time. Metallic fibers for textile usage are single elements with fine drawn filaments of metal which can be spun and woven on normal textile machinery. Gold and silver have been used in design for centuries, when these shimmery tones 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, fabrics and more.
The history of metallic fibers began over hundreds of years ago. Many believe that nylon or rayon would have been the first fibers to be produced. But, actually, 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. Enduring in their approach, metals are easy to incorporate and can be the perfect touch for an interior space.
History of Metallic Fibers
Metallic fibers have always been admiring and still are to this day. Metallic fibers have gained many references around the world but, still symbolizing as wealth and nobility. 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 shimmer, they were most often 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). Like it was mentioned before, overtime the metallic reputation gained purpose and status, along with many new names. 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 different areas of textiles, but are most frequently used in brocade and lame fabrics. Brocade fabric is as wealthy and antique as the history of metallic fibers. This fabric was and is still used for higher class people. With the silk and silver or gold patterns of the fabric, Brocade is a symbolic treasure for the wealth. According to research, brocade originated from Italy, and is considered to a be a rising pattern. 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’). This fabric may or not hold a huge part in textiles, depending on the area of design it is considered for. This fabric has been constructed in pillow designs, table cloths, bedding, and even drapery in years past.
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 elements always meet the requirements for the finishing touch. Most often metallic fibers are expensive to produce and are difficult to work with, causing less producing. But, people’s admiration for these fibers make them worth developing. Like to this day, gold has always been more cherished and sought after, because metal would tend to dull over time. However, these ribbon-like filaments continue their popularity in the design world to this present day. Because of the development and growth of modern techniques, surface-protection have revealed newer and cheaper metals to the field. 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 as well. 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. As for lame fabrics, they are not often used into designs, but like everything else in the design industry, they will reveal themselves again over time.
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.
Many textile manufacturers that are producing metallic fabrics have become more reliable on aluminum and stainless steel, rather than Gold and Silver. Like it has been mentioned many times before, metal elements are being produced more frequently each year and their popularity remains consistent. By using cheaper metals to manufacture a popular design, makes the element more possible to produce in a daily process with no outrageous expenses. Manufactures save more and spend less by manufacturing the aluminum and stainless steel. Paint and stain help give these metals it’s gold and silver touch. Gold is known and used for its color which is a shimmering yellow, symbolizing wealth and nobility. 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). If metallic fibers are used for other than fabric, they will be manufactured and produced differently, having various procedures and machinery to develop them. Most often, metallic fibers are produced in tiles, especially when being manufactured for walls, flooring, or ceilings.
Structure and Properties of Metallic Fibers
Metallic fibers are flat, ribbon-like filaments width in fabric (Desai, 2015). But when using them in interior décor, such as, flooring, lighting, and tedious elements, their size ranges. 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 it comes 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. In today’s designs, metallic fibers can be seen in lighting, flooring, ceiling, specific elements within the design, and even on walls. Whether it’s a single wall piece or the whole wall itself, metallic fibers still give off the same effect. Tiled elements are most commonly used when dealing with metallic fibers. All metals have made an uprising in design. Symbolizing money, education, and wealth, you will see metal fibers in most modern day homes.
As metallic yarns are mostly used for decorating purposes and do not add any significates to the strength of the actual fabric. If it becomes necessary, the metallic yarns may be combined with support yarns, such as nylon. Metallic elements such as an island in a kitchen, or a door, must be kept up with general care. Aluminum will eventually ruin and tarnish overtime but, in metallic fibers it is well preserved. Because you are dealing with metal, you must be aware of how the design must be protected for its best performance. Polyester films are extraordinarily resistant. If metallic fibers are held in contact with strong solutions for long periods of time, the aluminum will be attacked and unprotected. Organic solvents, too, may attack the laminate adhesive or lacquer coating of the fiber; great care should be taken in dry cleaning to ensure that an appropriate type of solvent is used (Desai 2015). Splitting of fibers may occur if the fibers are heated, and 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.