History of Acetate Fibre
Cellulose acetate or acetate fibre (1924) is one of the earliest synthetic fibres and is based on cotton or tree pulp cellulose (“biopolymers”).
These “cellulosic fibres” have passed their peak as cheap petrol-based fibres (nylon and polyester) and have displaced regenerated pulp fibre.
It was invented by two Swiss brothers, Doctors Camille and Henri Dreyfus, who originally began chemical research in a shed behind their father’s house in Basel, Switzerland.
In 1905, Camille and Henri developed a commercial process to manufacture cellulose acetate.
The Dreyfus brothers initially focused on cellulose acetate film, which was then widely used in celluloid plastics and motion picture film.
By 1913, Camille and Henri’s studies and experiments had produced excellent laboratory samples of continuous filament acetate yarn.
In 1924, the first commercial acetate filament was spun in the United States and trademarked as Celanese.
Acetate Fibre Characteristics
Acetate fibres are lustrous, soft and pliable; acetate fabrics drape well and have an attractive handle.
Acetate is not a strong fibre and is, in fact, one of the weakest textile fibres. It loses strength on wetting.
It is moderately elastic and recovers well from creasing after wearing, acetate garments should be carefully hung to permit the yarns to relax to their original shape.
Acetate is a moderate conductor of heat and is much warmer than other rayon fibres.
It is not very absorbent; acetate fabrics dry quickly as they get wet mostly on the surface and will not become saturated.
Acetate is thermoplastic and softens in the presence of heat. Acetate garments should be ironed at a moderate temperature, if the iron is too hot, the fabric will melt and upon cooling will become stiff.
Acetate garments are resistant to soiling as the smoothness of the fibre produces fabrics that shed dirt and wash easily.
Although acetate is cellulosic, dyes suitable for cotton and viscose rayon cannot be used. There are dyes specially developed for acetate but they do not have a high degree of color fastness.
Acetate is resistant to mildew, moths, and bacteria.
It is resistant to sunlight although long exposure will weaken the fibre.
Acetate will decompose with a concentrated solution of alkalis and acids.
- Apparel blouses, dresses, linings, wedding and party attire, home furnishings, draperies, upholstery and slip covers etc.
- It is also used in high absorbency products like diapers, feminine hygiene products, cigarette filters, surgical products, and other filters.
Acetate fibre is a regenerated fibre in which the fibre-forming substance is cellulose acetate. Where not less than 92 percent of the hydroxyl groups are acetylated, the term triacetate may be used as a generic description of the fibre.
Acetate is derived from cellulose by deconstructing wood pulp into a purified fluffy white cellulose. The cellulose is then reacted with acetic acid and acetic anhydride in the presence of sulfuric acid.
It is then put through a controlled, partial hydrolysis to remove the sulfate and a sufficient number of acetate groups to give the product the desired properties.
The anhydroglucose unit is the fundamental repeating structure of cellulose and has three hydroxyl groups which can react to form acetate esters.
The most common form of cellulose acetate fibre has an acetate group on approximately two of every three hydroxyls. This cellulose diacetate is known as secondary acetate, or simply as “acetate”.
After it is formed, cellulose acetate is dissolved in acetone into a viscose resin for extrusion through spinnerets (which resemble a shower head).
As the filaments emerge, the solvent is evaporated in warm air via dry spinning, producing fine cellulose acetate fibres.
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