Viscose 2016-12-06T05:35:20+00:00


Corks coated with viscose Sponge made from viscose Early solid viscose sample
The new Cellophane wrapping for cigarettes 1920s Courtaulds advertisement Skein of viscose silk made by Courtaulds  in 1907

A natural polymer made from wood pulp, viscose was first patented by Cross, Bevan & Beadle in Britain in 1892. The word viscose is believed to have been used by Cross to describe the product, although in the US in the 1920s the word rayon was adopted.

Viscose was first used for coating fabrics which it did quite successfully. However, when Cross and his partners tried to make solid objects like umbrella handles they were found to be much too brittle.

Further development led to viscose being spun into thread for embroidery and trimmings. Eventually, after Samuel Courtauld & Co. had taken over in 1904, viscose manufacture became big business. By the twenties and thirties it had almost completely replaced the traditional cotton and wool for women’s stockings and underwear. Similar changes occurred in the US and in Europe, too.

Viscose was also being used for linings and furnishing fabrics; providing the staple for towels and table-cloths and was being made into high tenacity yarn for tyres. Yet other uses included the manufacture of sponges and absorbent cloths.

Making viscose film had been tried by Cross in the 1890s but it was in Switzerland and France that major successes were achieved. By 1913 C.T.A. established La Cellophane SA. Ten years later DuPont Cellophane Co. was set up in the USA and in 1935 British Cellophane Ltd. was established.