Silk and Blended Silk: What are the differences

Silk

Silk is a very valuable natural protein fiber in the textile industry. The proteins are natural polymers and biodegradable and have reactive functional groups. Silk fibers are thin, long and soft. They are known for their strength, absorbency, luster, and wrinkle resistance. However, there are some downfalls of natural silk. It is weakened by sunlight, sweat, bleach, body oils, perfumes, and fading. It is sometimes mixed with other fabrics to make blended silk. 

Blended Silk

Silk is often mixed with polyester and lyocell to diversify its properties and usages. The demand for blended silk is constantly increasing due to the continuous rise in the price of silk. Lyocell fibers are known for their softness, luster, and moisture absorbency which makes it a great candidate for a blend. It is also natural and biodegradable as it is made from wood pulp. It is very similar to silk, in regards to strength, luster, and appearance.

 

Comparison of Silk and Blended Silk

Silk and blended silk are often compared to see if one is truly better than the other.

Color Dying

After both the blended silk and 100 percent silk being dyed at boiling temperatures, washed, and dried the K/S values of both fabrics were taken. K/S values are taken based on the color coordinates and the average is taken of all the coordinates. Both silk and blended silk show good dying values. The difference between the two is only minor. They are both good at dying because of the reaction between the dye and the site of polymers in the fabric’s material.

Fastness Properties

Fastness is used to describe a material’s resistance to color running or fading. The fastness properties of both silk and blended silk were taken in regards to wash, light, and rubbing. Both silks tested well in their wash fastness property, and moderate to poor in regards to light and rubbing. This is also due to the behavior of the fabric towards these applications.

Antimicrobial Properties

Both types of silk were tested for their antimicrobial properties, its ability to stop the growth of bacteria and microorganisms. They were both tested against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. All samples showed a higher zone of resistance against Staphylococcus aureus when compared to Escherichia coli. However, the blended silk showed higher resistance overall when compared to 100 percent silk.

Air Permeability

Air permeability is used to measure the rate of air flow through a material. The air permeability of mixed silk is double that of 100 percent silk. This is due to the various functional groups present in the polymers of blended silk.

UV Protection

The UV transmittance of both types of silk was determined using a UV visible spectrophotometer. Both fabrics tested that they were good at UV protection. However, the presence of lyocell in the mixed silk makes the UV protection of blended silk greater than that of 100 percent silk.

Conclusion

Silk and blended silk are very similar in appearance, texture, and strength. Blended silk is seen as a cheaper alternative that is more durable due to its mixed fabric. The blended fabric increases antimicrobial properties, air permeability, and UV protection. Mixed silk can be used as a great alternative. For those who want silk’s appearance and feel, but want something stronger and more durable.

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