Viscose might be a term some people are familiar with, especially with regards to clothing, and the manufacturing industry as a whole.
But what exactly is viscose, and what does it mean with regards to material?
What Does Viscose Mean?
With regards to the creation of fabric, viscose refers to a semisynthetic material made from natural sources of regenerated cellulose – that is, fibrous material that can be derived from plant matter.
Viscose refers specifically to a form of rayon, which was first produced in 1905 by the British company ‘Courtaulds Fibres’, which then expanded to the United States in 1910.
What makes the viscose process different from other forms of semi synthetic fabric production is that wood can be used as a source of cellulose.
Making the whole process cheaper than other alternatives, and allowing companies to affordably manufacture more of this versatile material.
What Is Viscose Used For?
Viscose fabric is used for many different things within the world of manufacturing and consumer products.
Widely used within the clothing industry, viscose can be used to create artificial silk, mimicking the softness and luxuriousness of the material, and allowing people to have such garments at much cheaper prices than their silk counterparts.
This is also cheaper for the manufacturers, meaning they can sell the clothing at a much cheaper price, giving affordable, high quality pieces of clothing to the market.
Perhaps the most widely used application of viscose is in the production of cellophane, a widely used kitchen product used for preserving food and protecting it from germs and bacteria.
The nature of viscose means it has low permeability to air, oils, greases, bacteria, and liquid water, making it incredibly suitable for the packaging of food and other perishable substances.
Viscose is also used in the creation of synthetic velvet and the associated products.
Viscose is perfectly suited to this process, and the natural softness of the material means that it can easily pass as velvet, while making it cheaper for manufacturers, and more affordable for consumers to purchase.
What Is The Process For Viscose Production?
Now that we know a little about the many uses of viscose within manufacturing, let’s take a look at the actual process through which this versatile material is produced.
The main process of viscose production can be simply summed up into five main steps, each just as important as the next.
The first step involves the wood or plant matter being chipped into a wood pulp, which can then be dissolved in a mixture of chemicals like sodium hydroxide. This then forms a brown wood pulp solution.
Once you have the brown wood pulp solution, this can then be washed, cleaned, and bleached to make it ready and suitable for further production.
This eliminates any waste elements left, and helps to draw the excess solution from the pulp, leaving only the useful parts left.
To create the usable fibers, the pulp is then treated with a solution of carbon disulfide, before being dissolved in another solution of sodium hydroxide. The latter is used to create the product known as the ‘viscose’.
Once you have the viscose, this is then forced through something called a spinneret – a machine that helps create the filaments, which can then be turned into usable fibers. These filaments are also known as regenerated cellulose.
The regenerated cellulose is then spun into yarn, which can then be wound, and used to make viscose rayon fabric through the process of either knitting or weaving.
What Benefits Does Viscose Have?
Of course, viscose has plenty of advantages for both the manufacturer and the consumer, which is why it remains such a commonly used material.
Firstly, viscose is highly absorbent, which makes it good for clothing – as it can absorb the moisture from the skin and leave people feeling comfortable and dry.
For this reason, it is widely used for casual and athletic wear, as it not only stops moisture from building up, but it has breathability.
Viscose material is also naturally soft, which makes it well suited for casual wear, as well as any number of other clothing types. The material might look like silk, but has the softness of cotton, giving the wearer the best of both worlds.
Viscose fabric also maintains its shape better than other materials. What’s more, while the material is not elastic in and of itself, it can be blended with other fabrics like spandex to add extra stretch and malleability.
It can also be dyed quickly, which expedites the manufacturing process, and makes it cheaper for companies to produce.
It can also hold dye without fading, and holds its color longer than other fabrics – making it perfect for the consumer market, and offering customers long lasting quality.
Downsides Of Viscose
Of course, there are several downsides of viscose material – namely focused on the way it is produced.
Firstly, the creation of viscose requires the use of toxic chemicals, which are harmful for the workers, and the wider environment.
The wood for production also means that deforestation is a necessary part of production. This is bad for the environment, and sees thousands of natural habitats destroyed every year.
There is also a lot of water wastage during viscose production, which is not only bad for the environment, but unethical from a humanitarian stance.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about viscose, and the many uses it has within the modern manufacturing industry.
Viscose is a remarkable and versatile material, allowing manufacturers to affordably create durable, non permeable materials that are both comfortable, soft, and long lasting.
What’s more, it allows the consumer to purchase high quality products at a much cheaper price than standard equivalents.