Man-Made Fibers: Acetate

Originally classified as rayon, one of the earliest synthetic fibers , cellulose acetate fibers, are very similar to rayon fibers.  However, because of the use of acetic acid in the process, acetate fibers can’t be laundered at as high of temperature as cellulose, as they melt at lower temperatures.

Originally discovered in 1865, this fiber didn’t make its way to the United States until 1917 where it was manufactured for WWI.  It didn’t make it into commercial production until 1924, several years later than rayon.  Acetate became a hit in the development of film and later in magnetic tapes used for early computers.  However, it was quickly replaced with other polymers and  its popularity in both the film and textile industry dwindled.

I am not personally aware of any cellulose acetate fibers available to hand-spinners at this time and had a difficult time finding information about the trade names under which it was sold.  If anyone has additional information, please feel free to link in the comments below!

Morris, Peter John Turnbull (1989). The American Synthetic Rubber Research Program. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 258.

“Rayon and Acetate Fabrics to be Separately Labelled in Future”. The Southeast Missourian. February 12, 1952. Retrieved September 12, 2018.



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