What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Acetate?

by David Stewart

Fibers are the backbone of fabric. Fibers may be natural or manmade. Natural fibers include cotton, silk, wool and linen. Manmade fibers include acetate, nylon and polyester. The characteristics of acetate are such that it allows production of beautiful, comfortable fabrics. Acetate yarns play an important role in weaving and knitting. It is ideal for use in mass production items such as lining and may also be used for production of exclusive fabrics for niche markets. Like every other thing on this planet, acetate has its share of advantages and disadvantages.

The Comfort Factor

Fabrics made from acetate offer a high level of comfort to the wearers. It is particularly beneficial to use acetate fabric for the lining as acetate has better moisture absorption properties, as compared to other synthetic fibers. This characteristic ensures better sweat control for wearers, enhancing their comfort levels. Also acetate fabrics drape well and conform to body contours without clinging. It has a soft feel and is available in a variety of deep colors. A scientific ‘Comfort Study’ conducted by the Institute of Environment Research at Kansas State University indicates that acetate linings are less damp, less sticky and more absorbent compared to polyester linings.

The Green Fiber

Acetate is an environment friendly fiber in that it is manufactured from wood pulp. Wood pulp is a renewable resource, grown in closely managed wood pulp forest. Reforestation programs ensure adequate supply of acetate fibers for the textile industry. Also because acetate is from natural resources, it is hypoallergenic as compared to synthetic or chemical fibers. Acetate has also shown to be biodegradable and can be composted or incinerated with no harm to the environment.

Unique Properties

Acetate fibers have certain properties that are disadvantageous for their regular use. Acetate has low heat resistant properties and is sensitive to high temperatures. This means that you have to take care while ironing acetate fabrics. It is best to iron an acetate fabric when it is wet or through a damp cloth. Acetate is sensitive to organic solvents. So keep away perfumes and nail polish removers to ensure longevity of acetate garments. Acetate fibers also tend to wrinkle and no amount of ironing gets the wrinkles out. Acetate fibers have low abrasion resistance. Abrasion resistance refers to the ability of the fiber to withstand loss of shape due to surface wear, rubbing and other frictional activities. Because of its low abrasion resistance, acetate fabrics have poor durability, wear faster and do not last long.

Care of Acetate Fabrics

Acetate fabrics require greater care and maintenance compared to the natural fabrics. Acetate fibers tend to lose strength on prolonged exposure to water. So they cannot be washed at home. Most acetate fabrics need to be dry cleaned to keep in good condition, and dry cleaning regularly is an expensive affair.

About the Author

Hailing out of Pittsburgh, Pa., David Stewart has been writing articles since 2004, specializing in consumer-oriented pieces. He holds an associate degree in specialized technology from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.