A novel and effective method was developed for raw silk fabric degumming with the application of low-pressure argon plasma in pretreatment combining a subsequent one-step mild wet-chemical process. The plasma parameters, such as argon pressure, discharge power and exposure time, were optimized according to degumming loss and the properties of fabric such as capillary rise, tensile strength, bending rigidity, etc. An optimized plasma pretreatment for raw silk fabric degumming was at 80 Pa of argon gas and 60 W glow discharge power for 5–10 min. The raw silk fabric and fibers pretreated by argon plasma were characterized by scanning electronic microscopy and X-ray powder diffraction. In comparison with a conventional degumming process, the proposed method achieved comparable degumming efficiency and properties of silk fabric, and it was more environmentally friendly by shortening the conventional wet-chemical treatment process, saving the dosage of degumming agents, water and energy.
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