Viscose fiber, also known as rayon, is a type of semi-synthetic fiber widely used in the textile industry. It is produced from cellulose, a natural polymer found in plant cell walls. Viscose is created through a complex manufacturing process that involves treating cellulose with chemicals and converting it into a soluble compound. This compound is then extruded through spinnerets to form fibers, which are subsequently processed and spun into yarns for various textile applications.
The production of viscose fiber begins with sourcing cellulose, which can come from a variety of plant-based materials such as wood pulp, bamboo, or cotton linters. The cellulose is first treated with alkali, typically sodium hydroxide, to create a solution called viscose. This solution is then aged to improve its fluidity and filter out impurities. Afterward, carbon disulfide is added to the viscose solution, which causes it to go through a process known as xanthation. This step converts the cellulose into cellulose xanthate, a more soluble compound.
Once the viscose solution is ready, it is extruded through spinnerets into a coagulation bath containing sulfuric acid or another acidifying agent. This bath causes the cellulose xanthate to undergo a chemical transformation, known as regeneration, resulting in the formation of solid fibers. These fibers are then washed, bleached, and treated with additional chemicals to enhance their properties, such as strength, dye affinity, and flame resistance.
Viscose fibers possess several characteristics that make them popular in the textile industry. They have a smooth and soft texture, similar to natural fibers like cotton and silk. Viscose is highly absorbent and breathable, making it comfortable to wear in warm weather. It also has good draping qualities, allowing it to flow and hang well in clothing applications. Additionally, viscose fibers can be easily blended with other fibers like polyester or nylon to create fabrics with improved performance characteristics.
In terms of applications, viscose fibers are widely used in the production of clothing, home textiles, and industrial fabrics. They are commonly found in garments such as shirts, blouses, dresses, and skirts due to their drape and softness. Viscose is also utilized in the manufacturing of bedding, upholstery fabrics, curtains, and towels. In the non-textile industry, viscose fibers are employed in applications such as tire cords, medical products, and reinforcement materials.
There are several prominent users and manufacturers of viscose fiber globally. One notable company is Lenzing AG, an Austrian-based manufacturer that specializes in cellulose fibers. Lenzing produces high-quality viscose fibers under the brand name TENCEL™. Another key player in the industry is Aditya Birla Group, an Indian conglomerate that operates various divisions, including a prominent textiles business. Aditya Birla Group produces viscose fibers through its subsidiary, Birla Cellulose.
Other significant manufacturers and users of viscose fiber include Sateri Holdings Limited, a Chinese company with a strong presence in the viscose staple fiber market, and Tangshan Sanyou Group, a major player in the production of viscose filament yarn. Additionally, many textile and apparel brands around the world incorporate viscose fibers into their product lines, including H&M, Zara, and Gap.
Overall, viscose fiber is a versatile and widely utilized textile material that offers a combination of comfort, softness, and versatility. Its production involves a complex process of transforming cellulose into a soluble compound and subsequently regenerating it into solid fibers. With its diverse range of applications and prominent manufacturers, viscose fiber continues to be a significant player in the textile industry.
Neither a natural fiber nor a man-made one, it breathes like cotton but is much less sturdy. Versatile rayon is inexpensive and can be woven to feel like linen or wool. It is soft and drapeable but does wrinkle easily.
The generic name for fibres formed by the regeneration of cellulose from viscose (q.v.) by treatment with a solution of electrolytes (salts and acids). (See also spinning bath).
The most common type of rayon. It is produced in much greater quantity than cuprammonium rayon, the other commercial type.