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Rayon fiber is one of the oldest man-made fibers. Rayon fibers are derived from cellulose of wood pulp or cotton and then chemically treated to produce filaments, resulting into synthetic fibers. Rayon fibers have several properties of natural polymers such as low cost and high comfort. Also rayon fibers illustrate properties like drape and slipperiness similar to that of nylon fibers and can emulate the feel of wool or cotton making rayon garments ideal to use in hot and humid climatic conditions. However as rayon fibers are manufactured from natural polymers, they can be easily attacked by strong concentrated bleaches. Also prolong exposure to sunlight causes rayon fibers to lose their strength. The semi-synthetic nature of rayon fibers make them suitable for range of industrial applications in apparels, home furnishings, industrial and medical products. As rayon fibers have numerous applications, the market for these fibers is expected to grow across the globe at a rapid pace. The market for rayon fibers is largely dominated by Asia-pacific countries such as China, India and Indonesia.
Crude artificial silk was first introduced by the scientist Georges Audemars in 1855. However the method of the production suggested being too sluggish and not suitable for industry, British scientists Edward Bevan, Clayton Beadle and Charles Cross in 1894 came up with safe and practical method of production of these fibers. Finally it was in 1924 this artificial silk was named as rayon. Rayon fibers are engineered to have wide range of properties to meet the demands of several applications. Rayon fibers have following types: polynosic rayon fiber, high wet modulus rayon fiber, flame retardant fiber, super absorbent rayon fiber and tencel rayon fiber. Polynosic rayon fibers have a high degree of orientation, low water retention ability and fibrillar structure making them suitable in apparel segment especially sportswear. High wet modulus rayon fibers have remarkably high wet modulus of about 1 g/den making them suitable in parachute cords and other industrial applications.
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Flame retardant fibers are produced by the adhesion of the correct flame-retardant chemical to viscose making them suitable in jackets and industrial uses. Tencel rayon fibers are manufactured by a straight solvation process. As this process does not involve any direct chemical reaction it makes the process fully compatible with environmental regulations. Rayon fibers in general are used in home furnishings such as curtains, blankets, bedspreads, draperies, slipcovers, tablecloths and upholstery. Also rayon fibers are used in a number of medical applications like surgical packs, gowns and drapes where sterilizability is important. The other applications of rayon fibers include non woven products and tire cords.
Rayon fiber market expects huge augmentation owing to great demand from several industries. The textile sector is one of the most important consumers for these fibers. With growth of textile sector these fibers expect a positive trend in next few years. Asia-pacific countries like China and India dominate most of the rayon fiber market, followed by regions like Europe and Middle East. Rayon fibers show better drying capability compared to cotton making them better substitute for cotton in hot and humid climatic conditions in Asia-pacific region. Also with surge in cotton prices the apparel manufacturers are turning towards rayon fibers as a cheaper substitute.
Some of the key players in the rayon fibers market include Lenzing AG, Kelheim Fibres, Acordis, Grasim Industries Ltd., Eastman Chemical Company and Tembec, Inc.
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