Viscose – Rayon

How is Viscose fabric made?

Viscose is a unique form of wool cellulose acetate. It was the first man-made fibre and is a semi-synthetic. This means that although the production process is similar to that of synthetics, the main ingredient is natural. Because of this, Viscose has mainly the same properties as those of natural fibres such as Cotton and Linen rather than those of man-made fibres.

Viscose Manufacture

Viscose is produced by first deriving the cellulose form the plant. This is usually done by harvesting the trees, making them into logs, removing all the bark and then putting them into a chipper. This produces small, postage stamp-sized pieces of wood. These pieces of wood are put into a bath of chemicals until a ‘pulp’ remains. Any remaining pieces of wood are removed and the wood pulp can be worked with. The trees used are usually spruce or pine.

Once this part of the process has been done, all of the alkali is pressed out. The substance left is broken up into flakes or grains. These are called cellulose crumbs and are left to age for 2-3 days. These crumbs are then dissolved in a weak caustic acid solution making a viscous solution similar to honey in colour and consistency.

This solution is then pumped through spinnerets made up of hundreds of tiny holes into a bath of sulphuric acid. This coagulates the cellulose into regenerated filaments of 100% cellulose. These fibres are then washed thoroughly and usually bleached. They can then be spun into yarns and made up into fabrics. Many finishes can be applied to Viscose to achieve desired effects.

Properties of Viscose Fabric

  • Wrinkles easily
  • Shrinks in hot water
  • Feels like silk
  • Breathable
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Highly Lustrous
  • Easily dye-able
  • Soft
  • Smooth
  • Highly absorbent
  • Poor Insulators
  • Low durability
  • Can tear when wet
  • Poor elastic recovery
  • From a renewable resource
  • Versatile

End uses of Viscose

  • Medical Industry
  • Tablecloths
  • Napkins
  • Furniture Covers
  • Sheets
  • Draperies

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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