Tencel is the brand name for Lyocell which is a fibre which is produced in an environmentally responsible process made from cellulose. Tencel is becoming increasingly popular, the fabric of choice for ethical and conscious clothing brands. The light material is favoured for casual and sportswear. Eucalyptus, which is the main tree used to create the fabric, is a fast-growing tree and an ethical and eco-friendly material for the fashion industry.
HOW IS TENCEL MADE?
Tencel is made from dissolving wood pulps and dried using a process called ‘Spinning’. During the drying process, wood chips are added to make the mixture wet, which is then pushed through holes to create threads. The threads are then chemically treated and spun into yarn which is woven into clothes.
1. Making the pulp: Trees such as Eucalyptus are harvested from tree farms and sent to the mill to be debarked and chopped into several pieces. The pieces are filtered through chemical digesters to produce wet pulp. Later the pulp is washed with water which is spun into yarn.
2. Dissolving the cellulose: The next step is to dissolve the cellulose by breaking it into small pieces and piled into heated, pressurized containers filled with amine oxide.
3. Filtering: At this stage as soon as the cellulose in the solvent dissolves into a clear solution, it is purified out through a filter to make sure everything was dissolved.
4. Spinning: At this stage, the solution is pumped through spinnerets. The cellulose is forced through, producing long fibre strands. It will then be washed with demineralised water.
5. Dry and lubricate: The remaining water is removed by heating it. At this point, the fibre strands pass through a lubricant like soap or silicone and helps untangle the fibre strands and facilitate the process of carding.
6. Carding: The fibre strands are compressed by a crimping machine to give it texture and bulk. It is then sent through a comb to seperate it for the last time where lastly, the carded fibre strands are rolled up and shipped to a fabric mill.
How does Tencel impact the environment?
The primary worry for making Tencel is the quantity of trees that would be chopped down. The trees are cut from sustainable farms. Over that, the trees that are cut are replaced with more trees. Tencel is a biodegradable item. In comparison to cotton, the trees don't require pesticides. Production of Tencel is short, it takes about two and a half hours from chopping the wood down to the carding. Thus, compared to the production of other man-made fibres it uses less water and energy. The production is produced on a "closed-loop system," in which "99% of the chemicals and solvents used in the process to break down the wood pulp are recovered and recycled with minimal waste and very low emissions.
Why choose Tencel?
Tencel is an absorbent, wrinkle resistant and lightweight, which is great for sportswear. As well as being soft it is hypoallergenic, odour-resistant and itch-free. Tencel is made to last a long time, its elasticity and strength make it a great option for clothes that are more durable. This is why this fibre is widely used to produce sportswear; although the price is more expensive than cotton or linen.
Advantages of using Tencel:
Durability: Tencel fibres are smooth, elastic and are resistant to wrinkles.
Anti-bacterial: Tencel is anti-bacterial, it has a high moisture management property.
Fabric texture: The material has a very smooth, soft surface that drapes well. It is soft,breathable, lightweight and comfortable.
Moisture Absorbent: This fabric has greater moisture absorption than cotton and natural breathability. This makes the fabric a good choice for people with sensitive skin.
Flexible: The fabric is interchangeable. It can be created to have a smooth finish or a suede-like texture.
Disadvantages of using Tencel:
Price: Tencel fabric is more expensive due to the technology used in processing. It costs moreto produce.
Doesn’t dye easy: It is difficult for dyes to bind to the fabric during production. This can make buying the fabric difficult especially for consumers who want a particular colour.