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Silk developed as a fabric

Silk can be a replacement for nylon and polyester based clothing.

Since silkworms and spiders spin silk by pulling rather than pushing it out of their bodies, this could lead to new, greener ways of producing synthetic fibers.

This process can be copied in an industrial setting. It could improve how synthetic materials are processed and offer more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Conventional synthetic textiles are made by extrusion - pushing a liquid feedstock through a dye and then using high changes in temperature and exposure to harsh chemicals to solidify.

To spin silk by extrusion (pushing) means a silkworm would have to squeeze itself hard enough to generate more pressure than a firing diesel engine. This is not possible as the animal’s body would be unable to contain that pressure.

However, by measuring the forces required to pull silk from the animal’s body, researchers have found that it was well within the capability of the silkworm to pull a fiber, a process referred to as pultrusion.

However silk can solidify into a fiber at room temperature and leave only water - therefore causing less environmental damage.

The traditional production process for silk is both arduous and time-consuming, but it is possible to bypass that by mimicking nature in an industrial setting.

 
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