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What is Viscose Fabric?


You may be asking yourself, “What is viscose fabric?”. Viscose is another word for a very well known fabric: rayon! Viscose rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric found in everyday items. Produced all over the world (including the United States), production of viscose primarily relies on certain trees and wood pulp.

Where can you find this type of rayon? Over the last century, viscose rayon is found in anything from jacket linings to upscale dresses and garments and is used primarily for clothing. It was the first ever man-made fabric that’s produced from a semi-synthetic fiber and has unique manufacturing processes.

What is Viscose Fabric?

So, what is viscose fabric? Viscose fabric is better known to us as rayon fabric. Viscose is really the technical term aligned to the viscose process of rayon fibers. As previously mentioned, viscose fabric is a semi-synthetic fabric.

This fabric was the first ever fabric manufactured by man. Invented back in 1868,  the viscose process expanded on how to make textiles that were less expensive. Specifically, the viscose process targeted the manufacture of artificial silk. Once this process was made, it became a standard in the creation of rayon fabrics.

Viscose rayon is silk-like in touch and feel. Its absorbent properties surpass its natural counterparts like cotton fiber or linen. It makes this fabric great for hot climates where people tend to perspire more. Overall, rayon’s properties make it a great fabric for daily use.

Viscose Fabric: How it’s Manufactured

The manufacturing of viscose rayon led the way for artificial silk and opened the door to synthetic fabric creation. The process of formulating viscose rayon starts with trees. The wood pulp derives from raw material like pines, spruce, or hemlock trees. This contains the regenerated cellulose needed to create the viscose.

The wood pulp becomes extracted and turned into cellulose, then processed with sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. Once this process is complete, it’s spun into yarn. The spinning process happens in different ways.

Depending on its use, the yarn could be spun via the following methods: pot spinning, spool spinning, or continuous spinning. In both pot and spool spinning, the viscose fibers stretch onto godet wheels where they can gain tensile strength. Once stretched, they’re placed in a spinning cylinder called a Topham box. This box separates the strings and prepares them for their final step, where they’re washed, bleached, dyed, twisted and wound to a spool. In continuous spinning, the same process applies but it’s done all at once.

The yarn from there becomes fabric! They’re weaved based on their final product specifications.

Viscose Fabric and Quality

Viscose fabric has a bunch of great uses and applications. It is neither a natural or synthetic fabric due to its processing with natural raw materials, but coated chemical processes. Rayon fabric has been noted as a less expensive version of real silk, and feels comparable to the real thing. Overall, some of its finest uses are in clothing.

Viscose fabric is made to stretch over other fabrics. This quality is due to the spooling process, where the yarn is stretched to its limit to create good tensile strength. Viscose rayon also has amazing dye longevity. It can hold onto its coloring well.

Fabrics made with viscose rayon are also soft and silky. Made initially to replace the use of real silk, this cost-effective fabric has the feel of the softest cotton fibers, but drapes well. As a result, viscose fabric is typically dry cleaning only.

Viscose Fabric vs. Cotton

Organic cotton is a natural fiber compared to viscose. While there are similarities to cotton in its feel, viscose rayon product making and cotton production are completely different. Cotton fabric is made using more eco-friendly processing, using less chemicals and water waste than viscose. Viscose rayon however is a less expensive fabric, giving you more bang for your buck.

While there are many cotton producers in the United States, there are less viscose rayon producers. Cotton fabrics from US manufacturers are more likely to be found than rayon manufacturers.

Cotton and viscose fabrics easily blend with other fibers. Viscose and cotton are sometimes blended together, depending on the application. Cotton fabric naturally wicks, which increases in strength when wet, but viscose rayon becomes less strong as it is kept wet. Both of these fabrics have great properties for extended use. All in all, cotton and viscose fabrics are excellent for endless projects and applications.

Viscose Fabric’s Great Uses

Now that you can answer the question, “what is viscose fabric?”, the value of its use becomes more apparent! Viscose fabric is great for a number of uses, including:

  • Apparel: Viscose rayon is ideal for clothing of all kinds. It’s stretch and appearance is perfect for anything from work clothing to casual looks. It comes in a variety of colors which allows perfect mirroring to your style and personality. Overall, viscose fabric is soft and great for comfort.
  • Industrial Supplies: Rayon fiber’s use extends into a number of industrial supplies. If you’re in need of strong thread or braided cording, viscose is a fantastic choice over other natural or synthetic fibers.
  • Window Treatments: Viscose fabrics are amazing for drapery of all kinds! Used primarily indoors, viscose rayon works well when used for window treatments because of its incredible draping characteristics. This silky fabric is perfect for making beautiful curtains and drapes for your home.

Viscose rayon is, for the most part, an exceptional fabric for many different uses. If you’re wondering if viscose fabrics will work best for your next project, feel free to contact one of our experts here.

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