What kind of fabric is that

What is rayon? The fabric between natural and man-made fibers

What is rayon?

Lovers of clothing and accessories have certainly come across the name 'Rayon' several times. Be it on the label of clothes, scarfs, gloves or home textiles. And yet only a few know what exactly is meant by the material. If you, too, want to know what the answer to the question "What is rayon" is and what viscose has to do with rayon, then you've come to the right place.

What is rayon made of?

Naturally occurring cellulose based on wood or cotton is used to make rayon fibers. Since these raw materials are so cheap, the end product is also one of the cheapest materials. Using a special chemical process, the cellulose is transformed into a viscous liquid and then spun into threads. Does that sound familiar to you? No wonder: Because one of the subspecies of rayon is the well-known viscose.

What is rayon: origin and provenance

In the 1860s there was a crisis in European silk production as silk worms became infected with a disease. The Frenchman Hilaire de Chardonnet was looking for a solution to this problem. This interest developed into the search for a way to artificially produce silk. In 1885, Chardonnet registered the patent for the manufacture of cellulose-based rayon.

For the next 40 years the material was as in English-speaking countries as "Artificial Silk" known. At the beginning of the 20th century, a committee founded by the American Department of Commerce was commissioned to find a more catchy name in order to make the fiber palatable to the masses. In 1924 this committee decided on the name "Rayon". This is a made-up word that comes from the word "Ray"(In German:" Strahl ") and the final syllable of" Cotton"(In German:" cotton ") was put together.

For the German market, the spelling was changed to "Reyon". However, this name did not fully establish itself in Germany: In this country the fabric is known as viscose. However, clothes, accessories and home textiles of American or international origin still use the name “Rayon”.

How is rayon made?

Cellulose is needed to make rayon. This is obtained either from woods such as beech, spruce, eucalyptus, pine and bamboo, annual fiber plants or the short fibers of the cotton blossom, which cannot be used for the production of cotton.

With the addition of certain chemicals, a so-called spinning solution is created from the cellulose. For this purpose, the raw material is exposed to various processes, the result of which is a tough (viscose) Is liquid. This liquid is then pressed through special nozzles into a spinning bath, where the fibers solidify. Depending on the desired thickness of the fiber, the nozzles have a diameter of 25 to 250 micrometers. The fibers produced in this way are also referred to as continuous fibers because they can be of any desired length.

The rayon fibers are now spun into threads. Depending on the properties of the fabric, the threads can be treated to make them fireproof, particularly stable or water-repellent.

What is the difference between rayon and viscose?

Both names refer to the production of fibers from regenerated cellulose, so-called regenerated fibers. Depending on which chemicals are used, there are different processes, which are referred to as nitro, acetate or viscose processes. All fabrics from these processes are called rayon in America. This is an umbrella term for regenerated fibers, of which viscose is a sub-form.

What is rayon used for?

Rayon - and viscose - are real all-rounders. Because the properties and thickness of the fibers can be precisely determined during manufacture, regenerated fibers are incredibly versatile. In addition to clothing, accessories and home textiles, rayon can also be used to manufacture medical and hygiene products such as bandages, tampons and cotton swabs. With special spinning processes, the material is also used for tea bags, filters and even in tire production.


  • Low price
  • Comfortable, soft to wear
  • Nice case
  • Breathable
  • Can be mixed with other fibers
  • Easy to color for rich results


  • Threads swell up in moisture
  • May shrink when washed
  • Can be damaged when ironing
  • Chemicals are used in its manufacture

Now you know exactly about rayon: what rayon is, what is the difference between rayon and rayon and how the material is made. Take a look at our fantastic sample box, in which you can find many other fabrics in addition to rayon.