Introduction

Viscose is a soft, light-weighted fabric which is been in use since the late 1800s. It is a semi-synthetic fibre that means it is manmade from natural polymeric cellulose or regenerated cellulose. Viscose is the name given to it due to its ‘viscous’ state while spinning solution, which describes it. Viscose is a type of rayon fabric that is made from wood pulp, which is also used as a silk substitute. Viscose was first made in 1883 as artificial silk. It is cheap to produce, and it is used in various clothing items and home furnishing sector.

Manufacturing Process  

Viscose is made from tree wood pulp such as pine, beech, and eucalyptus, also it can be made from bamboo. It is a semi-synthetic fibre; thus, its manufacturing process involves many chemicals like carbon disulphide and sodium hydroxide. At the initial stage of the manufacturing process, the plant is first chipped into wood pulp. This wood pulp is then dissolved in chemicals so that it can form a brown wood pulp solution.

Then, this wood pulp solution is washed, cleaned, and later bleached. So, to make the fibres from the wood pulp, the pulp is treated with carbon disulphide first, and then it is dissolved in sodium hydroxide. The solution here made is referred to as ‘Viscose’. After this, the solution is poured through a spinneret, a machine that creates filament fibres. these fibres are then ready to get spun into yarn which can be either woven or knitted to form viscose rayon fabric.

Characteristics of viscose

If you are looking for a light-weighted material that can have a lustrous finish, a soft feel, and that drapes well, then, viscose is a great option. Viscose is also cheap and will be the perfect option to get luxury at a low price. It also blends well with cotton, polyester, and spandex.

Viscose is great as absorbency, as it easily absorbs sweat and water, making it a great choice for sportswear and casual wear. It is extremely light, airy, and breathable which will suit summers well. Though it looks like silk, it gives a soft feel like cotton. Viscose does not tend to the property of elasticity, but if blended with spandex or other stretchable textiles, it can add elasticity to it. One of the best characteristics of viscose is that it can hold the dye without fading it even though it is used for longer terms.

Care For viscose

The clothing made from viscose needs to be dry cleaned, as, in wet condition, it can sometimes become weak and gets stretched. It can be hand washed but the water should be cold, the use of mild detergents is a must. Hang dry is the best way for drying the clothing made from viscose.

Is viscose sustainable?

As viscose is made from renewable plants, many consider it a sustainable fabric. But this is not the case, because, when we consider sustainability, viscose is not an eco-friendly option, as its production process involves, water waste due to the saturation of chemicals and imbalance in local ecosystems. Though the wood used to make viscose is harvested sustainably but it does not often come from sustainably grown forests. Also, deforestation is caused on a large scale due to the destruction of natural forests which is harming the ecosystem. Also, the production of viscose consists of high use of toxic chemicals that play a vital role to pollute the air and water sources. Although viscose is a biodegradable fibre that is made from a renewable resource, its production is harming the environment which is still a problem, we need to look after.

Conclusion

 Viscose is a great option for one who wants a lightweight, luxury material. Though it is obtained from wood pulp it involves many chemical treatments in the making procedure. This heavily destroys the environment, but to improve the Manufacturing process, research and development can be done to reduce the environmental damage and make Viscose truly sustainable.

References:

Facts about Viscose – dated on 6th April 2019

https://www.contrado.co.uk/blog/what-is-viscose/

Masterclass:  What is Viscose? – dated on 2nd June 2021

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/fabric-guide-what-is-viscose-understanding-viscose-fabric-and-how-viscose-is-made

Viscose Fiber article by textile study centre – dated on 5th July 2018

https://textilestudycenter.com/viscose-rayon-production/

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Author: Rugveda Pisat