Acetate, a material widely used in clothing, is made from cellulose derived from wood pulp. After the acetate forms, it dissolves in acetone in a spinneret machine. As filaments emerge, the solvent evaporates in warm air through dry spinning to produce fine yarn.
To produce the acetate, a chemical reaction forms between pure cellulose from wood pulp, acetic acid and acetic anhydride in the presence of sulfuric acid. Partial hydrolysis, or immersion in water, removes the sulfate to give the acetate the desired qualities.
After the solvent evaporates through dry spinning in the spinneret, the manufacturer weaves the resulting filaments or yarns to form cloth, sometimes with the addition of yarns of another fiber, such as rayon or cotton. Manufacturers have produced special dyes for acetate because it does not absorb dyes made for rayon or cotton. Manufacturers can create multicolor effects in fabrics by combining acetate with other yarns.
Acetate fiber received its first U.S. production in 1924 by Celanese Corporation. Current U.S. producers include Eastman Chemical Company and Celanese Acetate.
Cellulose, a chain of sugar-linked molecules, is in the cellular structure of most plants, and it is also potentially a major source of food. Eyewear manufacturers use a different manufacturing process to make cellulose into another type of acetate for eyeglass frames.