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Metallic fiber

Metallic fibers are manufactured fibers composed of metal, plastic-coated metal, metal-coated plastic, or a core completely covered by metal[1]. Gold and silver have been used since ancient times as yarns for fabric decoration. More recently, aluminum yarns, aluminized plastic yarns, and aluminized nylon yarns have replaced gold and silver. Metallic filaments can be coated with transparent films to minimize tarnishing. A common film is Lurex polyester [2].



Gold and silver have been used since ancient times as decoration in the clothing and textiles of kings, leaders, nobility and people of status. Many of these elegant textiles can be found in museums around the world [3]. Historically, the metallic thread was constructed by wrapping a metal strip atound a fiber core (cotton or silk), often in such a way as to reveal the color of the fiber core to enhance visual quality of the decoration[4]. Ancient textiles and clothing woven from wholly or partly gold threads is sometimes referred to as Cloth of Gold. They have been woven on Byzantine looms from the 7th to 9th century and from then on in Sicily, Cyprus, Lucca and Venice[5]. Weaving also flourished in the 12th century during the legacy of Genghis Khan when art and trade flourished under Mongol rule in China and some Middle Eastern areas[6]. The Dobeckmum Company produced the first modern metallic fiber in 1946 [3]. In the past aluminum has always been used as the base in a metallic fiber. More recently stainless steel has become a base as well. It is more difficult to work with but provides properties to the yarn that allows it to be used in more high tech applications [3].

Fiber properties

Coated metallic filaments help to minimize tarnishing. When suitable adhesives and films are used, they are not affected by salt water, chlorinated water in swimming pools or climatic conditions[7]. If possible anything made with metallic fibers should be dry-cleaned, if there is no care label. Ironing can be problematic because the heat from the iron, especially at high tempatures, can melt the fibers[3].

Production method

There are two basic processes that are used in manufacturing metallic fibers. The most common is the laminating process, which seals a layer of aluminum between two layers of acetate or polyester film. These fibers are then cut into lengthwise strips for yarns and wound onto bobbins. The metal can be colored and sealed in a clear film or the adhesive can be colored or the film can be colored before the laminating process. There are many different variations of color and effect that can be made in metallic fibers, producing a wide range of looks [3].

Metallic fibers can also be made by using the metalizing process. This process involves heating the metal until it vaporizes then depositing it at a high pressure onto the polyester film [3]. This process produces thinner, more flexible, more durable, and more comfortable fibers [2]a.


Currently metallic fibers are manufactured primarily in Europe and none are made in the United States.


The Lurex Company Limited has manufactured metallic fibers in Europe for over fifty years. They produce a wide variety of metallic fiber products including fibers used in apparel fabric, embroidery, braids, knitting, military regalia, trimmings, ropes, cords and lace surface decoration. The majority of Lurex fibers have a polyamdie film covering the metal strand but polyester and viscose are also used. The fibers are also treated with a lubricant called P.W., a mineral-based oil, which helps provide ease of use [3].


The most common uses for metallic fibers is upholstery fabric and textiles such as lamé and brocade. Many people also use metallic fibers in weaving and needlepoint. More commonly today you can find metaillic fibers in clothing, anything from party and evening wear to club clothing, cold weather and survival clothing and everyday wear. Stainless steel and other metal fibers are used in communication lines such as phone lines and cable television lines. Stainless steel fibers are also used in carpets. The are dispersed throughout the carpet with other fibers so that they are not detected. The presence of the fibers helps to conduct electricity so that the static shock is reduced. These types of carpets are often used in high, computer areas where the chance of producing static is much greater. Other uses include tire cord, missile nose cone, work clothing such as protective suits, space suits, and cut resistant gloves for butchers and other people working near bladed or dangerous machinery.


  1. ^ Federal Trade Commission Definition
  2. ^ a b Kadolph, Sara J. and Langford, Anna L. "Textiles Ninth Edition" pg. 129-130.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Textile Reference Manual: Metallic Fibers: Spinning Straw into Gold?
  4. ^ Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  5. ^ - Cloth of Gold
  6. ^ Kim, Caroline "Humanities" The Treasures of Genghis Khan: Sept - Oct 2002 Vol. 23 #5
  7. ^ Fiber Source
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Metallic_fiber". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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