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What are Textiles?

The word “textile” was originally used to define a woven fabric and the processes involved in
weaving.Textile refers to any material made of interlacing fibers or Yarns. The yarn is produced
by spinning raw fibers of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands.Textiles are
formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, or pressing fibers together (felt).

The production of textiles is a craft whose speed and scale of production has been altered
almost beyond recognition by industrialization and the introduction of modern manufacturing
techniques. However, for the main types of textiles, plain weave, twill, or satin weave, there is
little difference between the ancient and modern methods.

Over the years the term has taken on broad connotations, including the following:

Staple filaments and fibers for use in yarns or preparation of woven, knitted, tufted or nonwoven
Yarns made from natural or man-made fibers,
Fabrics and other products made from fibers or from yarns, and
Apparel or other articles fabricated from the above which retain the flexibility and drape of the
original fabrics.
The broad definition of textiles will generally cover all of the products produced by the textile
industry intended for intermediate structures or final products.
Textile fabrics are planar structures produced by interlacing or entangling yarns or fibers in
some manner. In turn, textile yarns are continuous strands made up of textile fibers, the basic
physical structures or elements which makes up textile products. Each individual fiber is made
up of millions of individual long molecular chains of the discrete chemical structure.

The arrangement and orientation of these molecules within the individual fiber, as well as the
gross cross section and shape of the fiber (morphology), will affect fiber properties, but by far
the molecular structure of the long molecular chains which make up the fiber will determine its
basic physical and chemical nature.

Usually, the polymeric molecular chains found in fibers have a definite chemical sequence
which repeats itself along the length of the molecule. The total number of units which repeat
themselves in a chain (n) varies from a few units to several hundred and is referred to as the
degree of polymerization (DP) for molecules within that fiber.

History of textiles

The first clothes, worn at least 70,000 years ago and perhaps much earlier, were probably
made of animal skins and helped protect early humans from the ice ages. Then at some
point people learned to weave plant fibers into textiles.
The discovery of dyed flax fibres in a cave in the Republic of Georgia dated to 34,000
BCE suggests textile-like materials were made even in prehistoric times.

Textile machinery at the Cambrian Factory, Llanwrtyd, Wales in the 1940s

The production of textiles is a craft whose speed and scale of production has been
altered almost beyond recognition by industrialization and the introduction of modern
manufacturing techniques. However, for the main types of textiles, plain weave, twill, or
satin weave, there is little difference between the ancient and modern methods.

Textiles have an assortment of uses, the most common of which are for clothing and for
containers such as bags and baskets. In the household they are used in carpeting, upholstered
furnishings, window shades, towels, coverings for tables, beds, and other flat surfaces, and in
art. In the workplace they are used in industrial and scientific processes such as filtering.
Miscellaneous uses include flags, backpacks, tents, nets, handkerchiefs, cleaning rags,
transportation devices such as balloons, kites, sails, and parachutes; textiles are also used to
provide strengthening in composite materials such as fibreglass and industrial geotextiles.
Textiles are used in many traditional crafts such as sewing, quilting and embroidery.

Textiles for industrial purposes, and chosen for characteristics other than their appearance, are
commonly referred to as technical textiles. Technical textiles include textile structures for
automotive applications, medical textiles (e.g. implants), geotextiles (reinforcement of
embankments), agrotextiles (textiles for crop protection), protective clothing (e.g. against heat
and radiation for fire fighter clothing, against molten metals for welders, stab protection, and
bullet proof vests). In all these applications stringent performance requirements must be met.
Woven of threads coated with zinc oxide nanowires, laboratory fabric has been shown capable
of "self-powering nanosystems" using vibrations created by everyday actions like wind or body

Sources and types

Textiles are made from many materials, with four main sources: animal (wool, silk), plant
(cotton, flax, jute, bamboo), mineral (asbestos, glass fibre), and synthetic (nylon, polyester,
acrylic, rayon). The first three are natural. In the 20th century, they were supplemented by
artificial fibres made from petroleum.

Textiles are made in various strengths and degrees of durability, from the finest microfibre made
of strands thinner than one denier to the sturdiest canvas. Textile manufacturing terminology
has a wealth of descriptive terms, from light gauze-like gossamer to heavy grosgrain cloth and

Animal textiles are commonly made from hair, fur, skin or silk (in the silkworms case).
Wool refers to the hair of the domestic sheep or goat, which is distinguished from other types of
animal hair in that the individual strands are coated with scales and tightly crimped, and the
wool as a whole is coated with a wax mixture known as lanolin (sometimes called wool grease),
which is waterproof and dirtproof.[citation needed] Woollen refers to a bulkier yarn produced
from carded, non-parallel fibre, while worsted refers to a finer yarn spun from longer fibres which
have been combed to be parallel. Wool is commonly used for warm clothing. Cashmere, the
hair of the Indian cashmere goat, and mohair, the hair of the North African angora goat, are
types of wool known for their softness.

Other animal textiles which are made from hair or fur are alpaca wool, vicuña wool, llama wool,
and camel hair, generally used in the production of coats, jackets, ponchos, blankets, and other
warm coverings. Angora refers to the long, thick, soft hair of the angora rabbit. Qiviut is the fine
inner wool of the muskox.

Wadmal is a coarse cloth made of wool, produced in Scandinavia, mostly 1000~1500 CE.

Sea silk is an extremely fine, rare, and valuable fabric that is made from the silky filaments or
byssus secreted by a gland in the foot of pen shells.

Silk is an animal textile made from the fibres of the cocoon of the Chinese silkworm which is
spun into a smooth fabric prized for its softness. There are two main types of the silk: 'mulberry
silk' produced by the Bombyx Mori, and 'wild silk' such as Tussah silk (wild silk). Silkworm larvae
produce the first type if cultivated in habitats with fresh mulberry leaves for consumption, while
Tussah silk is produced by silkworms feeding purely on oak leaves. Around four-fifths of the
world's silk production consists of cultivated silk.[12]

Grass, rush, hemp, and sisal are all used in making rope. In the first two, the entire plant is used
for this purpose, while in the last two, only fibres from the plant are utilized. Coir (coconut fibre)
is used in making twine, and also in floormats, doormats, brushes, mattresses, floor tiles, and

Straw and bamboo are both used to make hats. Straw, a dried form of grass, is also used for
stuffing, as is kapok.

Fibres from pulpwood trees, cotton, rice, hemp, and nettle are used in making paper.

Cotton, flax, jute, hemp, modal and even bamboo fibre are all used in clothing. Piña (pineapple
fibre) and ramie are also fibres used in clothing, generally with a blend of other fibres such as
cotton. Nettles have also been used to make a fibre and fabric very similar to hemp or flax. The
use of milkweed stalk fibre has also been reported, but it tends to be somewhat weaker than
other fibres like hemp or flax.
The inner bark of the lacebark tree is a fine netting that has been used to make clothing and
accessories as well as utilitarian articles such as rope.

Acetate is used to increase the shininess of certain fabrics such as silks, velvets, and taffetas.

Seaweed is used in the production of textiles: a water-soluble fibre known as alginate is

produced and is used as a holding fibre; when the cloth is finished, the alginate is dissolved,
leaving an open area.

Rayon is a manufactured fabric derived from plant pulp. Different types of rayon can imitate the
feel and texture of silk, cotton, wool, or linen.

Fibres from the stalks of plants, such as hemp, flax, and nettles, are also known as 'bast' fibres.

Asbestos and basalt fibre are used for vinyl tiles, sheeting and adhesives, "transite" panels and
siding, acoustical ceilings, stage curtains, and fire blankets.

Glass fibre is used in the production of ironing board and mattress covers, ropes and cables,
reinforcement fibre for composite materials, insect netting, flame-retardant and protective fabric,
soundproof, fireproof, and insulating fibres. Glass fibres are woven and coated with Teflon to
produce beta cloth, a virtually fireproof fabric which replaced nylon in the outer layer of United
States space suits since 1968.[verification needed]

Metal fibre, metal foil, and metal wire have a variety of uses, including the production of
cloth-of-gold and jewellery. Hardware cloth (US term only) is a coarse woven mesh of steel wire,
used in construction. It is much like standard window screening, but heavier and with a more
open weave.

Minerals and natural and synthetic fabrics may be combined, as in emery cloth, a layer of emery
abrasive glued to a cloth backing. Also, "sand cloth" is a U.S. term for fine wire mesh with
abrasive glued to it, employed like emery cloth or coarse sandpaper.

Production methods
There is a logical developement of raw material into finished consumer goods. Textile
materials in the sequenceof "fiber_to yarns to fabric".

Weaving is a textile production method which involves interlacing a set of longer threads (called
the warp) with a set of crossing threads (called the weft). This is done on a frame or machine
known as a loom, of which there are a number of types. Some weaving is still done by hand, but
the vast majority is mechanized.
Knitting, looping, and crocheting involve interlacing loops of yarn, which are formed either on a
knitting needle, needle, or on a crochet hook, together in a line. The processes are different in
that knitting has several active loops at one time, on the knitting needle waiting to interlock with
another loop, while Looping and crocheting never have more than one active loop on the
needle. Knitting can be performed by machine, but crochet can only be performed by hand.[18]

Spread Tow is a production method where the yarn are spread into thin tapes, and then the
tapes are woven as warp and weft. This method is mostly used for composite materials; spread
tow fabrics can be made in carbon, aramide, etc.

Braiding or plaiting involves twisting threads together into cloth. Knotting involves tying threads
together and is used in making tatting and macrame.

Lace is made by interlocking threads together independently, using a backing and any of the
methods described above, to create a fine fabric with open holes in the work. Lace can be made
by either hand or machine.

Carpets, rugs, velvet, velour, and velveteen are made by interlacing a secondary yarn through
woven cloth, creating a tufted layer known as a nap or pile.

Felting involves pressing a mat of fibres together, and working them together until they become
tangled. A liquid, such as soapy water, is usually added to lubricate the fibres, and to open up
the microscopic scales on strands of wool.

Nonwoven textiles are manufactured by the bonding of fibres to make fabric. Bonding may be
thermal or mechanical, or adhesives can be used.

Bark cloth is made by pounding bark until it is soft and flat.

Classification of Textile Fiber

● Since from the past, there are many types of textile fiber that have been used or
developed in textile production such as cloth, rope, household and etc. In textile industry,
fiber can be classified into two different types based on their sources which are Natural

fiber and Synthetic fiber or well-known as Man-made fiber.

Natural fiber
It is a fiber made from a material originated from natural sources. There are three main sources
that can be obtained to produce this kind of fiber. Cellulosic fiber (origin from plant), Protein fiber
(origin from animal) and also Mineral fiber. This kind of fiber could only produce a staple yarn
(short fibers) in terms length which is not too long compare with Synthetic fiber. The dimensional
structure of Natural fiber would be in hairiness surface because of their origin. Each kind of
them has their own characteristic and end-use demands.

Cellulosic fiber could be obtained and categorized into three main types, Seed, Bast/Stem, and

Protein fiber could be obtained from three categories, Hair, Wool, and Filament.
Unlike the other two sources, Mineral fiber is obtainable from varieties of rock source which is
also known as asbestos fiber. It is a fibrous form of silicate made of magnesium and calcium.
However, because of the risk of health problem may occur the production of asbestos in textile
industry have been decline

Synthetic Fiber
The term Synthetic fiber refers to materials that is not originated in natural sources but are
developed by human by using chemical and mechanical process. Thus, Synthetic fiber is
well-known as the Man-made fiber. Unlike Natural fiber, the properties of this fiber can be
determined or controlled early before the production occurs. Unlike natural, Synthetic fiber is
produce in a filament yarn or filament staple yarn base on the end-use. The dimensional
appearance can be varies according to the demands usage and in fact, it can be as same-like
appearance and properties as the Natural fiber. [4] There are two base types of man-made that
have been widely used by the textile industry, Natural Polymer base and Synthetic base.

Synthetic base refers to a fiber that has been made totally by the man-made process by using
chemical substance as the sources. The properties of it will be determined totally at the initial for
their demands by the manufacturer.

Natural Polymer or also known as Regenerated fiber is differently from Synthetic base. It is
manufactured fiber that is derived from natural cellulosic sources such as wood pulp or cotton
linters. The composition of these cellulosic will be treated or alters with polymerized technique to
regenerate into a new form of fiber.
Physical Properties

Length: Textile fibres are available in different lengths. Filaments are long continuous
fibres of indefinite length measured in yards or meters. Staple fibres are the short fibres
and are measured in inches or centimeters and range in length from ¾ " to 18". All
natural fibres except silk are staple fibres. Man-made and synthetic fibres are all filament
fibres. They are made as filaments since their length can be controlled when the fibre
forming solution escapes through the holes of a spinnerette . Sometimes filament fibres
are also cut into staple length to produce certain desirable qualities. In order to cut the
filaments into staple length, several thousands of filaments are taken in the form of a
loose rope or strand, often made crimpy and are cut to produce staple fibres ranging in
length from 1" to 5". The rope of fibres is also refered to as ‘Fibre tow’.

Fibrous materials must possess greater length than the diameter. This is referred as
length to width ratio. A minimum ratio of 100:1 is considered essential. Majority of the
fibres have greater length than the diameter.

Strength: Strength is the second primary property of all textile fibres. In order to be
serviceable, all fibres must possess this quality. The strength must be adequate for
processing or spinning into a yarn and further making into a fabric. Fibres may vary in
strength and the strength within a fibre may not be uniform throughout. It depends upon
mainly the molecular structure of fibres.

The strength of a fibre is defined as the ability to resist stress & is expressed in grams
per denier. Denier is equal to the weight in grams of 9000 meters of filament. Fibre
tenacity may vary from fibre to fibre. It may be as low as 1 gm/denier in acetate and as
high as 8 gms/denier in glass. Strength can also be measured in pounds / sq.inch. This is
referred as ‘tensile strength’. The strength of a fibre can never be confused with strength
of yarn or fabric since it is possible to produce very strong and durable materials from
weak fibres. The yarn or the fabric strength is controlled by many other factors which are
discussed in the related chapters.

A strong fibre is durable, has a better tear strength and resists sagging and pilling. The
tenacities of some selected fibres of consumers’ interest are given below.


Under Standard Conditions (700 F & 65% RH)

Cotton - 4.0
Silk - 4.5
Wool - 1.5
Rayon - 1.5 to 2.4
Acetate - 1.2 to 1.5
Nylon - 4.5 to 5.9 (High tenacity fibres– 5.9 to 9.2)
Polyester - 4.4 to 7.8
Glass - 7.0

Glass ranks first in tenacity than the other fibres. Next comes Nylon and Polyester. Some
of these fibres loose or gain strength when wet. A good example for loss of strength
during wet condition is Rayon and for gaining strength is cotton.

Flexibility or Pliability: It is also one of the important primary properties. Many natural
fibres are available without this quality. So they are qualified for textile use. Certain
degree of flexibility or pliability is necessary for a fibre to be used as a textile fibre. A
textile fibre needs to be bendable. For example a glass rod cannot be bent without
breaking, but a glass filament can be bent easily. This property is essential to create
yarns and fabrics that can be creased, have the quality of drapability, ability to move with
the body and should allow for the free movement and also be comfortable. A stiff fibre
will make stiff fabrics, which cannot be used comfortably.

Cohesiveness or Spinnability: Cohesiveness is the ability of the fibres to stick together

during spinning. The cohesiveness in fibres may be due to the longitudinal contour or
the cross sectional shape that enable them to adhere together. The surface or the skin
structure of the fibre may also influence cohesiveness. For example, wool fibre
possesses scales on the outer skin of the fibre which help in interlocking fibres while
spinning. If the surface or shape of a fibre do not contribute for cohesiveness, the same
can be compensated by using filament yarns. As filaments are present throughout the
length of the yarns, there is little necessity of having the ability to stick. So this
cohesiveness is often conveniently replaced by spinning quality. Polyester is having the
lowest cohesiveness but it can be made into staple yarns by using less percentage of
cotton and later burning it through carbonising process.

Uniformity:In order to produce fine yarns, uniformity in the raw material is required.
Fibres that are used to produce yarns need to be similar in length and width, in spinning
quality and in flexibility. All man-made and synthetic fibres are uniform since they are
made through artificial processing. But in case of natural fibres, it is not so. Fibres differ
is many aspects, and so it is not possible to produce very fine materials in natural fibres
unless some extra processing is done.

secondary Properties

Physical Properties:
Physical Shape: The physical shape of the fibre is an important factor in determining
many of its properties. It includes the surface contour (smooth, rough, serrated), the
shape of the cross section and the width and length of the fibre. The shape of the cross
section influences certain factors such as lustre, body and hand. The surface contour in
turn influences cohesiveness, resiliency, loft and thickness. It contributes to resistance
to abrasion, Pilling and comfort factors such as absorbency and warmth. The cross
sectional shape can be changed for all artificial fibres unlike natural fibres as the fibres
are moulded though spinnerets.

Density: Density is the mass of a unit volume of material. It is expressed as gms/cubic

cm or pounds per cubic foot. The specific gravity of a fibre indicates the density relative
to that of water at 4oC. All textile fibres are heavier than water except olefin fibres. Only
these fibres float on water. Cotton, wool fibres are heavy and nylon is comparatively
lighter. The lower the density the more the covering power. A pound of wool and a pound
of nylon weigh the same but the fibres are more in nylon than in wool. High density
results in heavy fabrics, low density results in light weight fabrics.

A light weight fibre helps a fabric to be warm without being heavy. Acrylic fibres being
light comparatively are wool like in appearance and are used extensively instead of wool
to produce light weight sweaters & blankets.

Lustre: Lustre is the amount of light reflected from a surface. It is more subdued than
shine. Light rays are broken up into many short rays unlike the shine in which the light
ray is reflected back wholly without any breaks. The lustre is due to smoothness, fibre
length, flat or lobal shape. It determines the fibres natural brightness or dullness. The
natural fibre silk has the high lustre and cotton is the dullest natural fibre. All man-made
fibres are produced with lustre controlled. It is not always desirable to produce bright
fabrics. So the lustre is controlled by the addition of pigments such as titanium dioxide in
spinning solution. The lustre in natural and man-made fibres can also be improved by
various finishing techniques. For example the lustre in cotton is improved by

Absorbency: Generally textile fibres have certain amount of water as an integral part of
the fibre. All most all textiles fibres are naturally hygroscopic (i.e they pick up moisture
from air). But the amount of moisture the fibres absorb may differ. Absorbency in the
ability to take in moisture and moisture regain is the percentage of moisture a bone-dry
fibre will absorb from the air under the standard conditions of temperature and moisture.
Fibres that absorb water easily are known as hydrophilic (water loving) fibres. Natural
protein and vegetable fibres, rayon and acetate are hydrophilic fibres. Fibres that have
difficulty in absorbing water are known as hydrophobic fibres.

Many synthetic fibres are hydrophobic in nature. The absorbency of glass fibre is ‘0’. The
absorbency of a fibre is due to the hydroxyl groups present within the fibre and the
amorphous molecular arrangement. The fibres having crystalline arrangement are
generally hydrophobic.

Absorbency is an important factor in all textile fibres especially those which are used for
apparels as it influences many other fabric properties such as comfort, warmth, water
repellency, static build up, dyeability, shrinkage, wrinkle resistance etc. It is easy to wash
a hydrophobic fabric as it does not absorb stains and it dries quickly.

Among the textile fibres the natural protein fibres silk and wool are the most absorbant of
all fibres. Next comes the natural and man-made cellulosic fibres.

The absorbency of a textile fabric is controlled by the type of yarn and fabric
construction and also by finishing. For example: in cotton, the absorbency is increased
by kier boiling, mercerization and napping. Pile construction increases the area of

Elasticity: Elasticity is defined as the ability of fibres to return back to original shape after
being stretched. Elastic recovery is the ability of fibres to return from strain and is
expressed in percentage. If a fibre returns to original length after stretching to a specified
length, it is said to have 100% elastic recovery.

Elasticity is required in fabrics when subjected to stretch during wear. This property is
influenced by the side chains & cross linkages between the molecules. If strong bonds
are present in between chains of molecules, the fibre tends to return to its original
length. If the bonds are not strong it can’t recover to its original length but takes up the
new shape. Thus creases appear on the material. Some fibres show immediate elastic
recovery, and some fibres may show delayed elastic recovery. For example, the creases
on a silk material disappear if hung overnight. Wool, silk, viscose and nylon are having
good elasticity. Cotton and acetates have poor elastic recovery. Polyester has moderate
elongation but has good elastic recovery. It is apparent that both the elongation and
elastic recovery are considered together in evaluating fibres, yarns and fabrics.

Abrasion Resistance: It is the ability of fibres to withstand the rubbing or abrasion it gets
in everyday use. All fabrics irrespective of the enduse are subjected to rubbing of some
kind during wear. The fabric has to withstand rubbing, otherwise the fabric will show
signs of damage and become unsightly. The resistance may be due to the tough outer
layer and flexible molecular chains of the fibre. The size of the yarn also influences the
abrasion resistance. Thick yarns resist abrasion than thin yarns. Yarn uniformity is also
important as irregular yarns are abraded more easily than uniform yarns. Smooth fabrics
with compact yarn arrangement are less susceptible to damage by abrasion than those
with irregular surface in the low count.
Nylon has excellent resistance and acetate and glass have very poor abrasion resistance
when compared to silk & wool. Cotton has better abrasion resistance. This is an
important property, as it influences the durability and increases the resistance to

Hand: Hand is the way a fibre feels. It can be only detected by feeling it in between
fingers. The hand varies due to the cross sectional shape, the length and diameter, the
flexibility, the compressablity, resilience, surface contour of the fibres, surface friction
and thermal characteristics of fibres .

The hand and drape of a fabric are inter dependent. The hand of a fabric may vary from
very pliable to very stiff, from very soft to very hard, from very limpy to very springy,
from rigid to high degree of stress, form very smooth to very rough, from slippery to
harsh, from very cool to very hot and from wet to dry.

The hand of a yarn and fabric should not be confused with the hand of a fibre. It is
possible to produce smooth yarns from rough fibres and vice versa.

Pilling: Ball like structures are often observed on polyester and nylon materials after few
washes which make the material unsightly. Pilling is nothing but the balling up of fibre
ends on the surface of fabrics. It is one of the disadvantages of staple fibre fabrics. In
natural fibres the balls cut away from the fabric easily but synthetic fibres are so strong
that they do not break away rapidly from the fabric. So the strength of fibres is a basic
factor in the problem of pilling. Pills usually occur in areas that are abraded or subjected
to abrasion during wear. Usually at the armpits of garments and back and lower edge of
sarees, pilling can be seen. It can be made better by removing pills. But it is almost
impossible to remove pilling from synthetics unless it is given singeing finish. In this the
fabric passes through gas flames, so that the balls are burnt off. In order to inhibit the
formation of pills on materials, they are given special finishes known as anti pilling

To prevent pilling close fabric construction is recommended. Tightly twisted yarns and
longer staple fibres are helpful in preventing pilling. Fulling of wool, resin finishes on
cotton are anti pilling finishes.

Loft and Resiliency: Loft is the ability of a fibre to spring back to original thickness after
being compressed. Resiliency is the ability of a fibre to bounce back to shape following
compression, bending or similar deformation. Wool and silk fabrics are more resilient.
They can be deformed, crushed or wrinkled during wear but they come to shape upon
hanging. Elastic recovery is an important factor while evaluating the resilience of a fibre.
Usually good elastic recovery indicates good resiliency.
Static Electricity: This is the electricity produced by the friction of a fabric against itself
or some other object. If a fabric is better conductor of electricity, it conducts away the
electricity that is produced. But if the material is not a good conductor, the electricity
produced cannot be conducted away, but it tends to pile up on the surface of the fabric. It
the material comes in contact with a good conductor, a shock or transfer occurs. It may
produce sparks, in gaseous atmosphere, it may give explosions. So it is a hazard in
places where materials which are highly inflammable are present. So the use of
synthetics is prohibited in operation theatres. Static electricity rapidly develops in cold
and dry atmospheres. After wearing synthetics for few hours, it is better to wipe the
garments with a wet towel. It carries away the electricity produced. Static electricity
makes the fabric to cling to the body of the wearer. It attracts more dust and thus gives
unsightly appearance. Fabrics cling to the machinery & thus cutting and stitching of
garments is made difficult.

Antistatic finishes are given to fabrics in order to inhibit the piling up of static electricity
on fabrics. But this is washed off after few washes.

Feltability: It is the ability of fibre to mat together. Using this property, it is possible to
produce fabrics without the complicated processing of spinning and weaving. These are
termed as non - woven felted materials. Some rug materials, carpet materials and
apparels are produced by felting. The ability of wool to coil together, interlock & shrink
when subjected to heat, moisture and pressure is responsible for felting of wool fibres. In
fact the other fibres are also felted by using a suitable adhesive.

Viscose Rayon

It is a regenerated cellulosic fibre and cellulose is the raw material for producing this man made

The raw material is obtained from a special variety of wood called spruce.

Manufacturing Process

a. Purification of Cellulose:

The manufacture of viscose rayon starts with the purification of cellulose. Spruce trees are cut
into timber. Their barks are removed and cut into pieces measuring 7/8" x 1/2" x 1/4". These
pieces are treated with a solution of calcium bisulphite and cooked with steam under pressure
for about 14 hours.
The cellulosic component of the wood is unaffected by this treatment, but the cementing
material called lignin, which is present in the wood, is converted into its sulphonated compound
which is soluble in water. This can be washed off, thereby purifying the remaining cellulose. This
cellulose is treated with excess of water. After this it is treated with a bleaching agent (sod
hypochlorite) and finally converted into paper boards or sheets. This is called wood pulp, which
is normally purchased by the manufacturers of viscose rayon.

b. Conditioning of Wood Pulp:

The pulp sheets are cut by a guillotine to the required dimension and are kept in a special room.
Air moves freely among the divisors by means of ventilatorys, the temperature is maintained at
30 deg celcius. In this way the desired moisture content can be had.

c. Steeping Process:
The conditioned wood pulp sheets are treated with caustic soda solution ( about 17.5%). It is
called mercerising or steeping. The high DP cellulose (1000) is converted into soda cellulose.
The sheets are allowed to soak (steep0 until they become dark brown in colour. This takes
about 1-14 hours. The caustic soda solution is drained off and sheets are pressed to squeeze
out excess caustic soda solution. 100 kg of sulphite pulp gives about 310 kg of soda cellulose.

4. Shredding or cutting process:

The wet, soft sheets of soda cellulose are passed through a shredding machine which cuts
them into small bits. In 2-3 hours the sheets are broken into fine crumbs.

5. Ageing Process:
To obtain almost ideal solution of cellulose, the soda cellulose is stored in small galvanised
drums for about 48 hours at 28 deg C. This process is called ageing process.The ageing
process is essential. During This process, the DP od soda cellulose is decreased from 1000 to
about 300 by oxygen present in the air, contained in the drum.

6. Churning Process or Xanthation:

After ageing, the crumbs of soda cellulose are transferred to rotating, air tight, hexagonal
churners or mixers. Carbon disulphide ( 10% of the weight of the crumbs) is added to the mixer
and churned together for 3 hours by rotating the mixers at a slow speed of 2 rev per minutes.
Sodium cellulose xanthate is formed during this process and the colors of the product changes
from white to reddish orange.

7. Mixing or dissolving Process:

The orange product i.e. sod.cell.xanthate is in the form of small balls. These fall into a mixer
called dissover which is provided with a stirrer. A dilute solution of caustic soda is added, and
the contents are stirred for 4-5 hours and at the same time, the dissovler is cooled. The
sod.cell.xan. dissovles to give a clear brown thick liquor, similar to honey. This is called 'viscose'
and it contains about 6.5% caustic soda and 7.5% cellulose.

8. Ripening Process:
This viscose solution requires to be ripened to give a solution having best spinning qualities.
Ripening is carried by storing the viscose solution for 4-5 days at 10 to 18 deg. The viscosity of
the solution first decreases and then rises to its original value. The ripened solutoin is filtered
carefully and is now ready for spinning to produce viscose rayon filaments.

9. Spinning Process:

The viscose solution is forced through a spinnerette, having many fine holes ( 0.05-0.1mm)
diameter. The spinnerette is submerged into a solution containing the following chemicals.
10% --> sulphuric acid, 18%- Sod sulphate, 1% - Zinc sulphate, 2% glucose, 69% water.

The spinning solution is kept at 40-45 deg celcius.

Sodium sulphate precipitates the dissoved sod. cell.xanthate. Sulphuric Acid converts xanthate
into cellulose, carbon disulphide and sod. sulphate. the glucose is supposed to give softness
and pliability to the filaments whereas zinc sulphate gives added strength.

The quality of viscose rayon filament formed depends upon:

1. The temperature of the spinning bath

2. The composition of the spinning bath.
3. The speed of coagulation
4. The period of immersion of the filament in the spinning bath.
5. The speed of spinning.
6. The stretch imparted to the filaments.

As a number of filaments emerge from the spinnerette, they are taken together to an eye at the
surface of the spinning bath and then guided to two rollers from where they are wound on to a

Properties of Viscose Rayon

Moisture Absorption

It absorbs more moisture than cotton. Moisture Content of Coton is 6% at 70 deg F and 65%
RH, and for Viscose Rayon it is 13% under the same conditions.

Tensile Strength

The Tensile Strength of the fibre is less when the fibre is wet than when dry. It is 1.5-2.4 gpd in
the dry state and 0.7-1.2 gpd in the wet state. For high tenacity variety the values are 3-4.6 gpd
and 1.9 to 3.0 gpd.

The elasticity of Viscose Rayon is less than 2-3%. This is very important in handling viscose
yarns during weaving, stentering etc when sudden tensions are applied.

Elongation at Break

Ordinary Viscose rayon has 15-30% elongation at break, whule high tenacity rayon has only
9-17% elongation at break.


The density of Viscose rayon is 1.53 g/cc. Rayon filaments are available in three densities: 1.5,
3.0 and 4.5

Action of Heat and Light

At 300 deg F or more, VR loses its strength and begins to decompose at 350-400 deg F.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight also weakens the fibre due to moisture and ultraviolet light of
the sunlight.

Chemical Properties

Viscose rayon consists of cellulose of lower DP than cotton cellulose. Also amorphous region of
Viscose rayon is present to a greater extent, therefore, Viscose rayon reacts faster than cotton
with chemicals. Acids like H2SO4 HCL breaks the cellulose to hydrocellulose. Oxidising agents
like Na(OCl)2, Bleaching powder, K2Cr2O7, KMnO4- form oxycellulose. Cold acid solutions for
a short time do not attack viscose rayon.

Action of Solvents

Textile solvents can be used on Viscose rayon without any deteriorating effect. Viscose rayon
dissolves in cuprammonium hydroxide solution.

Effect of Iron

Contact with iron in the form of ferrous hydroxide weakens viscose rayon yarns. Therefore
staining, marking or touching of rayon to iron or iron surface should be avoided.

Action of Microorganisms

Microorganisms ( moulds, mildew, fungus, bacteria) affect the colour, strength, dyeing
properties and lustre of rayon. Clean and dry viscose rayon is rarely attacked by moulds and
Longitudinal View

The longitudinal view of these fibres show many striations running parallel to the long axis of the
fibre. The cross section of viscose has striated periphery, having many sharp indentations, and
cross sectional contours vary from circular and oval to ribbon-like forms.