Metal Fibre

How is Metal fibre made?

Metal fibres are manufactured fibres composed of metal, plastic coated metal or metal coated plastic. Back in Ancient times metal fibres were only used in clothes for royalty, nobility or leaders and were mainly used as decoration or as a symbol of power. Cloths referred to as ‘Cloths of Gold’ were woven wholly or partly from threads covered in gold.

Metal fibre production

Back in ancient times, metallic fibres were made by wrapping a metal strip around a natural fibre. This was usually cotton or silk. Fabrics made from these fibres were woven on Byzantine looms from the 7th to the 9th Century. The first modern metallic fibre was manufactured in 1946. These modern metal fibres were made from aluminium and then more recently, stainless steel. Metal fibres can be made in two different ways; laminating which seals a layer of aluminium between two layers of acetate or polyester film. These are then wound into bobbins ready to be woven into fabrics. The second way is the metalizing process which involves heating the metal until it vaporises, and then depositing it at high pressure onto the polyester film. This way produces fibres that are more flexible, more comfortable and thinner.

The process of coating the metal with film stops the metal from tarnishing. Lurex is a trademark name for some metal fibres coated with polyester film, which have been produced in Europe for fifty years.

Metallic fibres can be mixed with wool, nylon, cotton and synthetic blends to create interesting effects and novelty yarns. The polyester or acetate film can also be coloured before being applied to the metal underneath to create a wide variety of different coloured metallic threads.

Metal fibre properties

  • Not affected by salt water
  • Do not tarnish
  • Should always be dry cleaned
  • Lightweight
  • High Strength
  • High Stiffness
  • Good energy absorption
  • Noise and Vibration insulators
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Shiny, adds decoration to garments
  • Flexible
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Good conductor of heat and electricity
  • Reduces static electricity
  • Magnetic

End uses of Metal fibre

  • Upholstery
  • Lame’ and Brocade fabrics
  • Party and Eveningwear
  • Embroidery
  • Braids
  • Knitting
  • Military Regalia
  • Trimmings
  • Lace
  • Cold weather and survival clothing
  • Communication lines such as telephone and cable TV lines
  • Carpets to reduce static electricity

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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