Another well-known type of fabric is viscose. Viscose is made from semi-natural fibers. The original source (usually wood pulp from Eucalyptus) is natural, but the process of turning wood pulp into yarns is chemical. Viscose is the oldest man-made fiber and has been invented during a search for a cheaper substitute of silk. The process of turning viscose into fabric is called “the viscose process”. This process was discovered by the chemist Charles Cross in 1891, and commercially produced for the first time in 1905. In 1924, it was officially named as “rayon”, because of its shimmering (ray of sun) and likenesses to cotton (on). Nowadays “viscose” is often used as the name instead of rayon.
Viscose fabric has a luxurious appeal, almost like silk. Due to the natural (cellulosic) source, it has many similarities to other natural cellulosic fibers such as cotton. Rayon is absorbing, comfortable and breathable. Viscose can quickly wrinkle and easily blends with other fibers.
Almost all of the viscose fiber production takes place in Asia, throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It used to take place in Europe but it has moved overseas due to rising labor costs and stricter environmental rules. The biggest viscose fiber producing country nowadays is China.
The environmental impact on soil depends upon the type of wood pulp which is used. The viscose process is suitable for almost any cellulose or protein source. Think about Soy, feathers and even bacteria.
The common method to do this is called the “viscose process”’. During this process, viscose fibers are transformed into fiber yarns. This is done by dissolving viscose in a chemical solvent which looks like honey. This solvent is toxic and approximately only 50% of it is used during the process. The other 50% leaks into the environment through the air and wastewater. The dissolvent is pressed through thin spinnerets, transforming the solvent into viscose filament yarns. After processing, the viscose fibers are weaved into fabric.
Viscose material is very easy to dye since the fibers easily absorb dyestuffs. The environmental impact depends upon the kind of dyestuff which is used.
Viscose is not a very expensive fabric. It has approximately the same cost price as cotton. Viscose is often seen as a cheaper alternative to silk.