Metal fiber, also referred to as synthetic fiber in the textile industry, is a fiber having either a metal, core covered by a metal, plastic coated metal, or a metal coated plastic. Metals such as gold, silver, and copper have been employed for weaving and embroidery in the ancient history in countries such as Persia, India, and Egypt. Currently, metals such as stainless steel and aluminum are used as metallic fibers in applications such as textile decoration. They are manufactured through two processes: laminating process and metalizing process. Under the laminating process, a lamination covering of acetate film or polyester film is provided over the metal filament, while in the metallization process, the metal is heated into vapors, which are then deposited onto the polyester film at high temperature. In the textile industry, the use of metal fibers provides esthetic appeal to the garment knitted out of metallic fibers.
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Alloys such as nichrome, stainless steel alloys, titanium, copper, nickel alloys, brass, and bronze are some of the metal alloys that are also employed in the production of metal fibers. The textile industry is one of the major consumers of metal fibers. Metal fibers are employed for decorative purpose as well as for functional purpose in the industry. Typical examples of end-products of metal fibers include upholstery fabrics such as lame and brocade, curtains, sofa covers, and carpets. Carpets are generally made with steel fibers, which conduct electricity and minimize the chance of static shock. Metal fibers are increasingly being used in the fashion industry to manufacture products such as apparels, hand bags, and stilettos. Metal filaments such as gold, silver, and bronze are more in demand, especially in the fashion industry, for their usage as metal fibers. However, the metal fibers market is still at a nascent stage; majority of the producers are based in Europe. Fabrics made out of metal fibers require utmost care and maintenance for cleaning of the fabric. Fabrics with metal fibers need professional dry cleaning with perchloroethylene. Care must be taken while ironing the fabrics with metal fibers. Manufacturing of metal fibers is a costly and difficult procedure. Metal fibers lack flexibility and are stiff. This gives rise to the need for a substitute for metal fibers.
In terms of material, the metal fiber market can be segmented into nickel, copper, aluminum, gold, silver, bronze, and others. The aluminum segment dominates the market owing to its light weight and high strength. Aluminum has low density compared to its counterparts. The segment is anticipated to continue its dominance during the forecast period. It is expected to expand at a steady pace during the forecast period.
In terms of end-user industry, the metal fiber market can be divided into textile, automotive, construction, and others. Currently, the textile segment dominates the metal fiber market. Metal fibers are used in various products such as hand bags, carpets, apparels, footwear, and home décor products in the textile industry. Demand for metal fibers has been increasing in the fashion industry. Gold, silver, and bronze fibers are extensively being used to give esthetic appeal to fabrics. Textile industry is anticipated to continue its dominance during the forecast period.
In terms of geography, the market is dominated by Europe, followed by North America. The metal fibers market is at the nascent stage. Moreover, metal fibers are expensive; therefore, they are more commonly used in developed regions. Majority of producers of metal fibers are located in Europe, A few are based in North America. Europe is anticipated to continue its dominance during the forecast period. The market in the region is expected to expand at a steady pace during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the global metal fiber market include Fibrometals, BASF SE, Huntsman International LLC, IntraMicron, Inc., Ahlstrom Corporation, Celanese Corporation, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, HYOSUNG, and PPG Industries Ohio Inc.
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