Due to its breathability, rayon fabric is used in many clothes. But do you know how rayon fabric is made to create clothes? Here is the manufacturing process of rayon fabric.
Cotton or the cellulose found in wood pulp is used to create rayon, which is a product of nature. Many of the qualities that have contributed to its popularity and success, such as low cost, diversity, and comfort, come from this natural base.
Thus, how is rayon fabric made? Plant cellulose is mechanically pulped to create rayon, which is then chemically liquefied with hazardous chemicals. After the pulp has been extruded, fibers have been produced that are spun into yarns and then knitted or woven into a fabric.
Read on for more information.
How is Rayon Fabric Made?
Although there are many variations in the manufacturing process that take advantage of the fiber’s adaptability, the method used to create regular or viscose rayon is described in the following.
The basic raw material for rayon production must be processed in order to extract and purify the cellulose, regardless of whether wood pulp or cotton liners are used.
Following treatment, the resulting white, purified cellulose sheets are transformed into regenerated cellulose filaments. These filaments are then spun into yarns, which are then created into the desired fabric.
Processing Purified Cellulose
In order to create sheets of alkali cellulose, sheets of purified cellulose are steeped in sodium hydroxide (caustic soda). These sheets are aged in metal containers for two to three days after being dried, crushed into crumbs, and aged. The metal containers are carefully regulated for humidity and temperature.
After aging, the crumbs are mixed and stirred with liquid carbon disulfide, which transforms the mixture into sodium cellulose xanthate, an orange-colored product.
When caustic soda is used to bathe cellulose xanthate, a viscous solution that resembles honey in both appearance and texture is produced. The design’s dyes and delusterants are then added. The syrupy mixture is purified to remove impurities before being aged for 4–5 days in vats.
The viscose solution is then converted into fiber strings. This is accomplished by squeezing the liquid into an acid bath by forcing it through a spinneret, which functions like a shower head. A big spinneret with lots of holes is used to make staple fiber.
A spinneret with smaller holes is utilized when producing filament fiber. Acid coagulates and solidifies the filaments, which are now referred to as regenerated cellulose filaments, in the acid bath.
The filaments are prepared to be spun into yarn after an acid bath. Several spinning techniques, such as pot spinning, spool spinning, and continuous spinning, can be used, depending on the type of yarn desired.
In Pot Spinning, the filaments are first stretched under controlled tension onto a series of offsetting rollers called godet wheels. This stretching increases the filaments’ strength while reducing their diameter and improving their size uniformity.
The filaments are then put into a rapidly spinning cylinder called a Topham Box, resulting in cake-like strings that stick to the sides of the strings are then cleaned, bleached, rinsed, dried, and wound on cones or spools.
Spool spinning and pot spinning are very comparable. The filaments are wound on spools, passed through rollers, cleaned, bleached, rinsed, dried, and wound once more on spools or cones.
In continuous spinning, the filaments are stretched over godet wheels while also being cleaned, bleached, dried, twisted, and wound.
The various weaving procedures required to create the fabric can begin once the fibers have sufficiently cured. Any of a variety of finishing treatments can then be applied to the resulting fabric. To control smoothness, these include calendaring; pre-shrinking; water resistance; and wrinkle resistance.
What is Rayon Fabric Made Of?
Rayon is most often made from the cellulose fiber of wood pulp, but it could also be made from cotton. Yes, rayon does originate from natural resources. But that might not always be a good thing.
The fact that the pure cellulose is heavily processed before it is changed back into cellulose means that the substance is technically made from regenerated cellulose.
Wood pulp from beech and pine trees, for example, can be used to make rayon. Even bamboo and cotton can be used to create it. There are some rayon varieties made from eucalyptus, birch, and even oak!
Is Rayon Production Harmful?
But why are those chemicals even there? Are they actually that dangerous? The process of making viscose harms both the environment and the workers in rayon factories, so the answer is yes.
Workers dealing with these chemicals regularly have to take necessary precautions to prevent injuries. Particularly if production isn’t done with the proper protection, some of these chemicals can have devastating effects on the human body.
The CDC states that carbon disulfide, which is used to dissolve cellulose, can harm the kidneys, heart, eyes, blood, skin, and other organs. The risk of injury increases with increased exposure for the workers.
Because of this, rayon derived from carbon sulfide is no longer produced in the US. Similar to this, cuprammonium rayon, also known as Cupra rayon, which is made in the nation using a copper- and ammonia-based solvent, is no longer produced there due to air and water quality violations.
Nevertheless, other nations continue to employ these procedures. You probably shouldn’t dismiss something so quickly if its harmful effects result in a nationwide ban on its production.
Additionally, even if workers were entirely safe—which they aren’t—we still can’t ignore the effects these toxic chemicals have on the environment. Rayon is regarded as harmful as long as significant quantities of these chemicals find their way into our waterways and ecosystem.
Is Rayon Sustainable?
The natural origins of rayon make it a popular claim to be a natural fabric. To call it an entirely natural fabric, though, would be a stretch, despite the fact that it is made of natural fibers.
Recall how rayon is produced in the section above. Tons of chemicals that are neither natural nor healthy for you or the environment are used in the production of rayon. Because these processes are not natural, rayon falls in the grey area between natural and synthetic fabrics.
Is it, however, long-lasting? Regular rayon fiber is not sustainable at all. The process by which it is made negates many of its positive traits (i.e., made from natural sources, biodegradable). It is illogical to refer to rayon as sustainable because the process requires so many chemicals.
However, there have been recent developments that have led to the production of newer generations of rayon (as mentioned above) in a more environmentally friendly manner.
Compared to regular rayon, modal, and lyocell use significantly fewer chemicals. As part of the production process, chemicals are used, and they have better systems in place to deal with those chemicals.
Even the most recent and improved model, though, does not belong to the category of natural fabrics. Despite everything, Lyocell is still a semi-synthetic fabric.
Also not always sustainable is Modal, the replacement for the original rayon. There might be some exceptions, such as the closed-loop manufacturing process used to create Tencel Modal.
Lyocell is the only version of this fabric that we can consistently recommend among its three generations. We would also like to emphasize how important it is to make sure the Lyocell is produced by a reputable company like Tencel.
Final Words: The Manufacturing Process of Rayon
Its ability to function as a fabric is directly related to how it is made. It’s crucial to ascertain whether the material is sustainable, and to a greater extent.
During the manufacturing of rayon, fiber is extruded through a spinneret. When rayon is made, viscose rayon fibers are extruded into a chemical solution before being spun into yarn.
Is Rayon Synthetic Or Natural?
Rayon is a semi-synthetic cellulosic fiber used widely in everything from clothing construction to bedsheets to tire cords. Although bamboo or beech trees are used to make rayon, rayon is a manufactured fiber because of the extensive chemical processing it goes through.
Is Rayon Ethical?
While rayon is more sustainable than completely synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, it’s not as sustainable as completely natural fabrics. In general, rayon production has a bad impact on the environment, wildlife, and the people who make it.
Is Rayon Better Than Cotton?
When it comes to rayon vs cotton, rayon is more absorbent than cotton. Cotton is an insulating fabric, whereas rayon is not. Cotton works best in warm climates, whereas rayon can be used in humid environments. Cotton fabric becomes stronger when wet, whereas rayon becomes weaker.