Lyocell fabric is semi-synthetic and it is commonly substituted for silk or cotton fabric. Its contents are mainly cellulose that comes from wood. It is a popular fabric as it is made of organic ingredients and it is seen as a more sustainable option when compared to synthetic fibres.
Lyocell is very similar to cotton in its properties so it can be difficult to tell whether you are wearing a lyocell dress or cotton dress. It is a soft fabric that is comfortable to wear. It retains its high strength when wet or dry. A drawback for cotton clothing is pilling which can occur over time with frequent washing. Lyocell fabric is generally quite resistant to pilling so it will retain its original texture for a long time. Other textile types can be easily blended with lyocell. Some examples of such fabric are silk, cotton, wool, nylon and rayon. There is a direct solvent used in the lyocell fabric production process. The process is quite similar to that of rayon production. It is a very efficient process that produces minimal waste. And compared to rayon, lyocell is a less synthetic fabric. The raw materials used in production are chips of hardwood that come from birch or oak. There are sustainable tree farms that are dedicated to this. When the cut trees are brought to the production facility they are converted to chips and softened into pulp in a vat of chemical digesters.
The pulp is washed in water to rid it of the chemicals and some production processes use bleach for sanitation. After washing, the pulp is dried in a sheet and rolled into spools. The sheets are reduced to small squares and placed in a vat of amine oxide. These vats are subjected to high pressure and temperature. This results in the dissolving of cellulose into a clear liquid that goes through filtration and is pumped through spinnerets to create long fine fibres. The fibres are set in a vat of diluted amine oxide and then washed again. The lyocell fibres then go through a drying process and a lubricant is applied. The fibres are compressed in a crimper and ordered according to the types of strands which can then be utilised to create many products. The amine oxide used in this production can be recovered which minimises the waste produced.With proper manufacturing methods, there will be no toxins released into the environment with lyocell production.
Because lyocell is quite soft similar to how cotton feels, it can be used to make so many items of clothing. Most of the time, it is mixed with other fabric types. The resulting fabric after the combination has a higher strength than polyester or cotton. Lyocell is also used to replace cotton in conveyor belts in manufacturing plants. It can be used for speciality paper as well. There is still research underway to look into the many ways in which lyocell can be used. Lyocell fabric is one of the simplest and easiest cellulose fabric types to be produced and it has many uses including commercial applications.