Push or Pull, How Does Silk Flow?

J. Sparkes [1],
[1] University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Published in 2016

Silk is one of the longest used and most recognizable textiles that we, as a society, use regularly. We see it as a luxury good, worn as an indicator of success and value. However, despite mankind having domesticated and farmed silkworms for millennia, we still know relatively little about the manufacturing process which converts the liquid silk into the fibers we are so familiar with. Increased understanding of the processing conditions which silk producers employ will help in our search for tailor-made bio-sourced fibers. The use of parametric analysis in COMSOL Multiphysics® software will allow us to explore Ridley’s statement that "evolutionary systems are only energetically optimized as they need to be, not necessarily can be" by comparing the differences between different sets of published rheological data for both spiders and silkworms against different duct geometries, with the eventual aim of producing a series of dies optimized for the creation of fibers with radically or subtly distinct properties. In doing so, we take one more step down the path to producing synthetic silk fibers with properties tailored to specific applications.