Silk - Uses

Uses

Silk's absorbency makes it comfortable to wear in warm weather and while active. Its low conductivity keeps warm air close to the skin during cold weather. It is often used for clothing such as shirts, ties, blouses, formal dresses, high fashion clothes, lingerie, pyjamas, robes, dress suits, sun dresses and Eastern folk costumes. Silk's attractive lustre and drape makes it suitable for many furnishing applications. It is used for upholstery, wall coverings, window treatments (if blended with another fiber), rugs, bedding and wall hangings. While on the decline now, due to artificial fibers, silk has had many industrial and commercial uses, such as in parachutes, bicycle tires, comforter filling and artillery gunpowder bags.

A special manufacturing process removes the outer irritant sericin coating of the silk, which makes it suitable as non-absorbable surgical sutures. This process has also recently led to the introduction of specialist silk underclothing for children and adults with eczema where it can significantly reduce it. New uses and manufacturing techniques have been found for silk for making everything from disposable cups to drug delivery systems and holograms. To produce 1 kg of silk, 104 kg of mulberry leaves must be eaten by 3000 silkworms. It takes about 5000 silkworms to make a pure silk kimono. The construction of silk is called sericulture. The major silk producers are China (54%) and India (14%).

Top Ten Cocoons (Reelable) Producers — 2005
Country Production (Int $1000) Footnote Production (1000 kg) Footnote
People's Republic of China 978,013 C 290,003 F
India 259,679 C 77,000 F
Uzbekistan 57,332 C 17,000 F
Brazil 37,097 C 11,000 F
Iran 20,235 C 6,088 F
Thailand 16,862 C 5,000 F
Vietnam 10,117 C 3,000 F
Democratic People's Republic of Korea 5,059 C 1,500 F
Romania 3,372 C 1,000 F
Japan 2,023 C 600 F
No symbol = official figure, F = FAO estimate, * = Unofficial figure, C = Calculated figure;

Production in Int $1000 have been calculated based on 1999-2001 international prices
Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division


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