What is Tencel Fabric?

Have you seen a 100% Tencel shirt? if yes, then, you might be wondering what it is in the first place. Well, you are not the only one curious about it. Read on below to know more about Tencel fabric.

Tencel Fabric Defined

Tencel fabric has actually been around for much longer than most of you might know since this technology was originally developed in 1972.

However, it was only recently that its popularity spread dramatically with the rising numbers of more environmentally conscious brands of clothing combined with the increasing demand for more comfortable apparel.

To make things more interesting, Tencel is in fact the branded version of the fiber named lyocell. Lyocell fibers are a subtype of rayon and are made using wood pulp’s cellulose.

How Does Tencel Compare to Cotton?

Tencel is touted as stronger, softer, and more breathable compared to cotton. There are times when Tencel is also combined with other fibers such as cotton to give it a softer feel and finish. Tencel is a type of manmade fiber derived from wood while cotton is a form of natural fiber. Between these two, Tencel clothing is generally considered to be more moisture-wicking and breathable than cotton.

Who Developed Tencel?

It was in 1972 when the process used for creating lyocell that was branded Tencel, later on, was first developed by a now-defunct fibers facility located in Enka, North Carolina. However, it was only in 2003 when their process development was awarded by the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists with the Henry E. Millson Award for Invention.

After the Enka facility was closed down, another company in the UK called Courtaulds Fibres improved lyocell’s development further during the 1980s and they ultimately created Tencel. It was in 1990 when the rayon factory of Courtaulds Fibres located in Mobile, Alabama became home to the first-ever commercialization of the process of Tencel production.

The company together with its Tencel division was passed on to new owners several times until Lenzing AG eventually bought the Tencel division in 2000. Lenzing blended their existing Lenzing Lyocell with Tencel but retained the brand name Tencel.

The Making of Tencel Fabric

The cellulose fiber that makes up lyocell is produced from wood pulp dissolved with the use of a wet spinning variant known as dry jet-wet spinning. The process of spinning is used to create polymer fibers. Spinning has five different methods, with wet spinning being the oldest of them all.

Wet spinning is the process used for polymers such as spandex and rayon that should be dissolved first using a solvent before spinning. In the variation of dry jet-wet spinning used for lyocell creation, dry wood pulp is blended with a solvent to create a wet mixture. This pulp is extruded or pushed through a die of tiny holes to form threads. These threads are then drawn into dry air before being chemically treated by submerging them into a liquid bath. These threads are then spun into yarn and this yarn will be woven into fabric.