What is Lyocell Fabric?


Lyocell fabrics in Kamer Fabric

Lyocell is a semi-synthetic fabric used instead of cotton or silk. This fabric is a type of rayon and consists mainly of cellulose obtained from wood.

Originally developed by American Enka in 1972, lyocell came into popularity in the last decades of the 20th century and is still relatively popular around the world. Because it is primarily made from organic ingredients, this fabric is seen as a more sustainable alternative to fully synthetic fibers such as polyester, but whether lyocell fabric is really better for the environment is debatable.

At American Enka, lyocell fabric did it only in the pilot phase of development before leaving the project. Until the 1980s, a British company called Courtaulds Fibers bought parts and created a new fabric called Tencel based on lyocell research. These two fabrics are chemically the same and the terms Tencel and lyocell can be used interchangeably.

Consumers often find lyocell fabric soft to the touch, and many people cannot tell the difference between this fabric and cotton. Lyocell fabric, whether wet or dry, is very strong and more resistant to pilling than cotton. Textile manufacturers love that this fabric is easy to mix with other types of textiles; For example, it plays well with cotton, silk, rayon, polyester, nylon, and wool.

How Is Lyocell Fabric Made?

Lyocell is chemically almost identical to rayon, but a slightly different process is used to make this rayon derivative. Unlike the rayon manufacturing process, the lyocell fabric manufacturing process involves the use of a direct solvent rather than an indirect solvent. A solvent spinning technique is used to create Lyocell, which means that, unlike the case in rayon production, the Lyocell manufacturing process does not cause significant chemical changes in the chemical structure of cellulose.

Fabrics derived from cellulose have been around for 200 years, but have only been in mass production since the beginning of the 20th century. These fabrics were originally substituted for silk, and the pioneers of cellulose fabrics sought to recreate the process silkworms used to make real silk.

The first cellulose fabric to be produced in series was made of rayon and so far rayon was made by an extrusion method. Lyocell production, one of the newest cellulose fabric production methods, improves the production methods used in making rayon. It is more efficient, produces less waste, and results in a product that is less synthetic than rayon.


lyocell fabric made from what


Lyocell Fabric Production Process

Tencel production stages:

Hardwood chips such as oak or birch are used as raw materials for the cellulose used in this fabric. The trees used for these purposes are usually grown in managed tree farms. When the trees arrive at a Lyocell production facility, they are split into sawdust and loaded into a softening chemical digester that turns the chips into pulp.

Tencel fabri in Kamer Fabric

This pulp is then washed in water and the bleach can be used to disinfect. It is then dried in a sheet and rolled onto reels. Most pulp rolls are enormous and weigh around 500 kg. These sheets are then divided into squares about an inch in diameter and these squares are placed in pressurized and heated containers of amine oxide, the primary solvent used to make lyocell fabric. After the cellulose is dissolved in a clear liquid, it is filtered and pumped through spinnerets.

As it is forced through the spinnerets, cellulose transforms into long, thin fibers. The fibers obtained are immersed in some diluted amine oxide and then washed with demineralized water.

How Is Lyocell Fabric Used?

Lyocell is often used instead of cotton or silk. This fabric feels like soft cotton and is used to make everything from shirts to towels and underwear.

Although some garments are made entirely of lyocell, it is more common to mix this fabric with other types of fabric such as cotton or polyester. Because Lyocell is so strong, when mixed with other fabrics, the resulting composite fabric is stronger than cotton or polyester alone.

In addition to garments, this fabric is used in a variety of commercial settings. For example, many manufacturers have changed lyocell instead of cotton in fabric parts of conveyor belts; When belts are made with this fabric, they last longer and are more resistant to wear and tear.

Also, Lyocell is quickly becoming a favorite fabric for medical dressings. In life or death situations, having a high-tensile fabric is essential and Lyocell has proven to be stronger than fabrics used for medical dressings in the past. The high absorbency profile of this fabric also makes it an ideal material for use in medical applications.

Shortly after its development, scientific researchers recognized the potential of lyocell as an ingredient in specialized articles. Although you do not want to write on Lyocell paper, many different types of filters are made primarily from paper and this fabric is an ideal filtering material as it has low air resistance and high opacity. Because lyocell fabric is a versatile material, it can also be used in a variety of special applications. Research into this texture is ongoing, which means that more uses for Lyocell could be discovered in the future.


Where Is Lyocell Fabric Made?

When Lyocell fabric was first created, it was produced exclusively at the American Enka factory in Enka, North Carolina. However, when Enka stopped producing this material, the production moved entirely to England when Courtaulds Fibers branded this fabric as Tencel.

Eventually, Tencel production expanded to the Courtaulds factory in Mobile, Alabama, and until the late 1990s, this fabric was not made anywhere else in the world. However, in 1998 Courtaulds was sold to Akzo Nobel, a Dutch international company specializing in paints. Akzo Nobel continued to sell Tencel rights to a private equity firm called CVC partners, which immediately sold the Tencel division to Lenzing AG, an Austrian-based international textile company.

Although Lenzing AG has several factories in Europe, most of its production has moved abroad to countries such as China and Indonesia. While some Tencel are still produced in countries such as Austria, Britain, and the USA, the majority of this fabric is produced in China.

Since Lenzing currently owns the Lyocell patent, it remains the largest producer of this textile in the world. Various small companies can also make this fabric in small quantities, but if you wore a lyocell suit, it was made by Lenzing AG in one of its Chinese factories.

lyocell fibers in Kamer Fabric


How Much Does Lyocell Fabric Cost?

Rayon and other cellulose fabrics were originally produced as cheaper alternatives to silk. While silk production is completely natural and relatively sustainable, it is difficult to produce silk on a large scale, which led to the “artificial silk” revolution that ultimately resulted in modern rayon.

While it is true that cellulose fabrics are cheaper to produce than silk, the same cannot be said for cotton. While the prices of cotton and cellulose fabrics have fluctuated, cotton production has been significantly cheaper in the last decade. If global economic trends remain stable, cotton remains cheaper to produce than lyocell and similar fabrics.

However, the price difference between cotton and Lyocell is almost negligible, and some manufacturers may prefer the cellulose fabric production process to the cotton production process. Lyocell, in particular, is one of the simplest cellulose fabrics to be produced and produces very little waste.

Although cellulose fabrics are becoming less popular than cotton due to price fluctuations, lyocell fabric is much more useful than cotton in a number of applications. The tension of this textile is off the graphics and is highly durable in commercial applications. Manufacturers are happy to pay slightly higher prices for these benefits.


What Kind of Lyocell Fabric Are There?

From a chemical point of view, there is only one type of lyocell fabric. Even when this substance is named Tencel, it has the same chemical composition and is made using the same process. However, there are a few fabrics that are very similar to lyocell fabric that you should know about as you learn more about this textile. Examples of these similar fabrics include:

Viscose rayon: This fabric is the first cellulose textile type to rise in popularity. Viscose rayon has been produced since the first few decades of the 20th century and previously used a number of cellulose fabric prototypes that were cut due to flammability or discontinuous manufacturing processes.

Viscose rayon remains a popular fabric and is produced all over the world. However, the viscose manufacturing process is much more complex than the process used to create lyocell and is much more impactful on the environment. In some cases, viscose rayon production may be cheaper than Lyocell, but it is clear that this fabric is technologically outdated.

Modal Rayon:

This type of rayon is relatively similar to Lyocell in many respects. It is made by a simpler process than viscose rayon and is significantly more stretched than other cellulose fiber types. This rayon production method was discovered in the 1940s and represents a technical leap forward in cellulose fabric production. However, many manufacturers around the world still produce viscose rayon instead of modal rayon.

Rayon fabric in Kamer Fabric

How Does Lyocell Fabric Affect the Environment?

Compared to other cellulose textiles, lyocell is much better for the environment. Although the process of producing this fabric is similar to that used to make rayon and other cellulose fabrics, Lyocell does not add toxins to the environment if produced correctly. Unlike similar textiles, lyocell production uses a “closed-loop” extraction process, which means that the same batch of amine oxide is used to extract multiple Tencel batches. For comparison, the production of viscose rayon involves a number of different chemical processes that do not use a closed-loop system, and these chemicals are then introduced into the environment in the form of contaminated water.

However, it is important to remember that lyocell is made from trees and a large amount of wood material is wasted in the production of.