Viscose material -- also called rayon -- is material produced using the viscose process. The process begins with purified cellulose and ends with almost pure cellulose, making viscose a "regenerated" fiber. In this way, viscose falls in between natural and synthetic fibers.
Viscose is made from cellulose developed from specially processed wood pulp. Since viscose can only be made using pulp composed of long-chain molecules, this pulp is a higher grade pulp than that used for papermaking or other purposes.
The Viscose Process
Viscose material is made using a manufacturing process called the viscose process. Viscose is produced by chemically converting purified cellulose into a soluble compound called xanthate. The xanthate is then diluted in caustic soda through a special process and passed through a machine called a spinneret to form filaments which are then converted back into a form of cellulose. The cellulose is stretched into fibers and can be woven into fabric.
Early Viscose Process
While the viscose process was used in the early 1900s, the industry grew between 1925 and 1955. It evolved along the way, with the invention of new variations that created higher performing materials. Early viscose was produced using batch processing, but newer modifications have enabled some semicontinuous production.
Cleaning Viscose Fabrics
Since some viscose material should be dry cleaned, follow the instructions on the garment. However, some viscose material is machine-washable and can even be bleached. For these fabrics, use mild warm or cool soapy water and air dry. Avoid wringing or twisting the garment.
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