World Facts

How Is Rayon Manufactured And What Are Its Applications?

Rayon is made from regenerated cellulose fiber.

What Is Rayon?

Rayon is a specific type of man-made fabric that, due to its manufacturing process, is technically considered a semi-synthetic fabric. It is a versatile fiber that can be produced in a number of ways in order to take on the texture and appearance of natural fabrics, such as cotton, silk, and wool. It has a long history and is considered the first fiber to have been manufactured by humans. This product has had a significant impact on the textile industry around the world, changing the way fabric is produced and resulting in decreased market processes. This article takes a closer look at the manufacturing process used to produce rayon as well as its most common applications and uses.

How Is Rayon Made?

Rayon comes in a variety of forms, each of which has its own production method. The most common type of rayon is known as viscose. Although it was patented in the late 19th century, this type of rayon has actually been produced since the early half of the same century. The first step in manufacturing viscose, also known as regular rayon, is to obtain cellulose, which is a type of plant fiber. Manufacturers then use lye to soak the cellulose until it dissolves. This process creates a substance that must be squeezed through special equipment in order to eliminate the extra fluid. The material left behind is broken into little pieces, known as white crumb, and left to air dry. Producers then mix the white crumb with carbon disulfide, a non-polar chemical solvent. This solvent converts the white crumb into yellow crumb, also referred to as cellulose xanthate. After being left to set up for some time, the yellow crumb is filtered and any excess air is removed from the material. The final manufacturing steps include: an acid bath, a stretching process, and a cleansing wash. After all of these steps, the regular rayon is ready to be cut and used in a number of applications.

What Are The Uses Of Rayon?

As previously mentioned, the primary use of rayon is in the textile industry. This material is most commonly used to create lightweight clothing that is low in cost and easy to take care of. In the early 21st century, the market price of cotton made the price of clothing increase substantially. In response, the textile industry began to incorporate more rayon in final clothing products in order to maintain lower prices for consumers. Some manufacturers have used bamboo as their original source of cellulose. In order to appeal to a wider range of customers, these companies marketed this particular rayon as bamboo fabric, a practice that required many companies to pay fines as a penalty.

In addition to clothing applications, rayon may also be used as a filler for furniture cushions, sleeping pillows, and even stuffed toys for children. In this presentation, the material represents cotton balls or stuffing and is quite soft and pliable. The absorbent properties of rayon have also lead it to be used in adult diapers and other hygiene products. Because of its strength, rayon has also been used as a primary component in vehicle tires, which results in a product that is less expensive than nylon tires.

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