Bamboo Silk Fibre
- story by MaterialDistrict
One of the most efficient thermal insulators known, bamboo silk fibre is completely natural, biodegradable and avoids the skin irritation hazards of glass fibre. With extremely soft and clean fibres, bamboo silk fibre has a natural sheen and softness that feels and drapes like silk, but is far less expensive to produce as a material. It can be spun and woven into threads for fabrics and textiles.
A very fast growing grass, bamboo is ready for harvesting within 4 years and does not require re-planting as its extensive root base sprouts new shoots readily. As such, it is considered to be a highly sustainable product.
The fibres are produced either mechanically or chemically. In the mechanical process, woody stems are crushed and natural enzymes break down the stems so that the fibres can be combed out and spun – much like in the production of flax. This labour-intensive process is used to produce bamboo linens.
For the chemical process, the bamboo is crushed but the leaves and pith may both be used. In older processes, sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide are used to break down bamboo cellulose and create a viscose cellulose solution. This is then forced through spinneret nozzles into a dilute acid solution where the extruded filaments solidify and re-convert into bamboo fibre threads that can be spun into bamboo fibre yarn.
Newer, more eco-friend producers use the Lyocell process, which uses non-toxic solvents and a close-loop process that captures and recycles 99.5% of the chemicals used.
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