Tencel Fiber: Properties, Manufacturing Process, Uses, Advantages and Disadvantages

Last Updated on 02/12/2021

Tencel Fiber: Properties, Manufacturing Process and Uses

Md. Jasimuddin Mandal
Govt. College of Engineering and Textile Technology,
Serampore, India.
Email: jasimmandal@gmail.com

 

Tencel Fiber:
Tencel is the trade name of lyocell fiber. The newest invention on the fiber block is lyocell. Tencel is a natural, manmade, biodegradable fiber which made from wood pulp. Tencel is a regenerated cellulose fiber made by a newly invented process which causes less effluent problems and less pollution than the process of making viscose rayon. Tencel has very good properties, such as high tenacity and low elongation. It has a high moisture regain of 11.5% and at the same time retains tenacity well when wet. The drawback of lyocell is that the fiber can split quite easily. Lyocell, modal and polynosic rayon have very similar properties, so their end uses are also similar.

tencel fiber
Fig: Tencel fiber

Properties of Tencel Fiber:

  • The actual degree of polymerization in the tencel fibers is higher than for standard viscose, modal (HWM) or polynosics.
  • Tencel fibers have excellent wet strength and wet modulus. The high wet modulus of the fiber is an important attribute as it imparts Tencel fabrics with very low potential shrinkage in wet state.
  • The fiber is round in cross-section and has a natural high lustre.
  • 100% biodegradable.
  • Tencel has a very high absorption capability, a unique nano-fibril structure and a very smooth surface.

A Comparison of Tencel Fiber Properties:

Parameter Tencel Polyester Cotton Viscose
Linear density (dtex) 1.7 1.7 1.7
Tenacity (cN/tex) 42-44 42-52 23-25 23-25
Elongation (%) 14-16 25-35 7-9 20-25
Wet tenacity (cN/tex) 37-41 42-52 27-31 10-12
Wet Elongation (%) 16-18 25-35 12-14 25-30
Wet modulus {@5% extension} (cN/tex) 270 210 100 50
Water imbibitions (%) 65 3 50 90

Manufacturing Process of Tencel Fiber:
Tencel manufacturing requires fewer steps compared with viscose rayon fiber manufacturing. Steps such as the derivatization, alkalization and xanthation of rayon are omitted in the Lyocell process. Few chemicals are used, among which N-methyl morpholine- N-oxide (NMMO) and water are almost recycled, which makes the process economically favourable.

Tencel fiber is a solvent spun fiber using amine oxide (MMNO) as the solvent. In the process, amine oxide is heated and is then used to dissolve wood pulp. A very clear but very viscous solution is obtained which is filtered and then spun into a bath containing a dilute aqueous solution of solvent. The bath removes the amine oxide from the fibers. The fibers are then washed and dried. The removed solvent is reclaimed for further use.

Tencel Solvent Spinning Process Flow Chart:

Flow chart of tencel solvent spinning
Fig: Flow chart of tencel solvent spinning

Advantages of Tencel Fiber:

1. Eco Print:
Made from the natural cellulose found in wood pulp. The fiber is economical in its use of energy and natural resources, and is fully biodegradable.

2. Moisture Absorbent:
This fiber has natural breathability and 50% greater moisture absorption than cotton.

3. Heat Capacity and Thermoregulation:
Water has a high heat capacity. Therefore, fibers which contain water will also have a high heat capacity. This can be used to help the human body’s temperature regulation. On the water vapor absorption isotherm we have seen that tencel fibre always contains water.

4. Anti-bacterial:
Due to its moisture management, Tencel is also anti-bacterial. Tencel has an extremely smooth, soft surface that drapes beautifully to flatter every figure.

5. Great for Sensitive Skin:
Tencel’s smooth fiber surface feels soft and supple against the skin and its incredible wicking abilities keep the skin dry, making tencel a great fabric for sensitive skin. Fibers with poor water absorption capacity result in textiles which cling to the skin when they are wet. Wet skin is much more sensible to irritation than dry skin. The coarseness, the stiffness and the surface character of the fibers will also have an impact on the skin’s sensory perception.

Both cotton and wool have rather good water absorbency, however they have a rather rough fiber surface. Tencel combines good water absorbency with a smooth fiber surface which makes it a fiber which is very gentle to the skin.

6. Durable:
This super fiber can hold up to a beating when both we and dry, and is most conveniently resistant to wrinkles.

Disadvantage of Tencel Fiber:

  1. Tencel will shrink (approx. 3%) after its first washing but retain its shape after that.
  2. Tencel is more expensive than most eco fabric alternatives.

Fibrillation of Tencel:
One of the properties of Tencel is its potential to fibrilate. Fibrillation is where the wet fiber, through abrasive action, develops micro-fibrils (or tiny fibers) on its surface. By manipulating or controlling fibrillation, a variety of different fabric finishes may be achieved.

The surface fibers of standard Tencel are fibrillated to produce a luxurious, soft-touch fabric with a peach skin surface. This is the usual recognized quality of the fiber.

A more recently developed fiber, Tencel A100, has a non-fibrillated surface finish. Developed primarily for the knitwear market, A100 has a subtle surface lustre, and excellent print definition and high tear and burst strength for woven and knitted fabrics. A100 also enhances laundering performance and shape retention of garments using this fiber.

Uses of Tencel Fiber:
The early stages of the commercialisation of tencel were focused towards the fashion textile apparel sector. However, this has changed during the first years of the twenty-first century so that tencel is now targeted equally into the industrial sector, with particular emphasis on the key nonwovens markets of wipes, filters and feminine hygiene products.

Tencel is usually used as a substitute for cotton or silk. This fabric feels like soft cotton, and it is used to make everything from dress shirts to towels to underwear.

Tencel fiber is used in women’s wear, denims, suits, etc. In men’s wear, it is used as golf shirts.  It is also used in the manufacture of towels, sheets, upholsteries and pillow cases.  It is used in fine quality clothes, blouses, stacks, jeans, shirts and sportswear.

Industrial uses of Tencel are conveyor belts, ultra–low– tar cigarette filters, printers blankets carbon shields, specialty papers and medical dressings.

It is used in technical fabrics in which high strength coupled with high absorption are required. It is used in especially non-woven fabrics targeted primarily in hydro entangled, spun laid and wet–lay technologies. It is also used in battery separation and coating substrates.

References:

  1. Manufactured fiber technology by V.B. Gupta and V.K. Kothari.
  2. Schuster K.C., Firgo H., Haussmann F., Männer J., Home Textiles with Feel Good Factor Derived From Wood, Lenzinger Berichte, 83 (2004), pp. 111–116.
  3. A Novel Green Treatment for Textiles: Plasma Treatment as a Sustainable Technology By Chi-wai Kan
  4. Sustainable Fibres and Textiles Edited by Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu

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  6. Production Process of Viscose Rayon
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