Cellulose acetate is the acetate ester of cellulose. It is processed from wood pulp for commercial purposes. The wood pulp is first processed using an acids known as acetic anhydride which goes on to form acetate flakes from which products are then manufactured. As this fiber is processed from wood pulp, which is a renewable source, it is biodegradable unlike other fabricated fibers. Besides wood pulp, the other technique involved in the manufacture of cellulose acetate is treating cotton with acetic acid and using sulphuric acid as the catalyst.
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The main applications of this fiber include its use in spectacle frames, film media, use in some coatings, synthetic fibers, cigarette filters among others. Its main use lies in the textile and cigarette-manufacturing industries as these industries are rapidly growing. The key properties of cellulose acetate fibers include high transparency, very lustrous, good toughness and a very soft and natural feel. Its biodegradable quality makes it the most wanted fiber globally.
The trade name for this acetate includes Acele, Avisco, Celanese, Chromspun and Estron. This acetate has very similar properties as that of rayon and were earlier believed to be the same textile. However, the two textiles differ from each in the use of acetic acid in the production of acetate fibers. The two fabrics are now treated and used very differently. Rayon resists heat while cellulose acetate burns or melts when heated. Cellulose acetate fiber textiles should be laundered gently and either hand washed or dry cleaned. Due to its rich and smooth, satiny texture is is a good synthetic alternative to silk and is usually used in bridal clothing and other attire.
The main factors that drive the market for cellulose acetate fibers is its use in cigarette products. The demand for cigarettes is increasing rapidly for the past few years. Cellulose acetate fibres are used in the production of cigarette buds and hence the demand for this material is expected to grow rapidly in the near future. The textile industry also makes use of this fiber in the manufacturing of garments and as the material is rich, smooth and satiny, it is a cheaper alternative to silk with similar qualities. the use of this material in textile industries is expected to drive the market continually especially its use in wedding gowns as the wedding industry is also a huge multimillion industry and generates huge revenues throughout the year. This material is considered biodegradable as it is made from wood pulp. Hence more industries would prefer to use this material as a raw material in order to manufacture their end product. The end users for this market include ophthalmologists’, textile industries, cigarette industries which are rapidly growing industries globally and demand for these end product is still high and is expected to grow over the next few years.
The key segments for this market include North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World. the usage of this fiber in the U.S. was the maximum for the past few years and was a mature market for this material.China follows the U.S, after which comes the rest of Asia Pacific and then Europe. The market for cellulose acetate fibers is expected to rise in Asia pacific countries as the number of textile industries is increasing and is anticipated to rise in the next few years. The demand for biodegradable fabric is very high and its use will enhance the sale of end products especially in North America and Europe as there wont be any stringent regulation against its use.
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The main companies profiled for the manufacture of cellulose acetate fibers include ,
- BASF AG
- Formosa Plastics Group
- Du Pont- Akra Polyester LLC
- Bayer AG