AMONG the new industries of the present century, there are few which have developed so rapidly as the artificial silk industry. In a “Survey of Textile Industries ”1 recently issued, much interesting information is given about this now important industry. It is pointed out that scientific research and experiment have played an essential part in its development. Production on a commercial scale dates back to 1896, when a few hundred tons were produced in France by the nitro-cellulose or ‘Chardonnet’ process, though since then the viscose, acetate, and cuprammonium processes have been perfected. Of these, the viscose is now the most general, and is estimated to account for at least 80 per cent of world production. Each of the methods differs to some extent hi regard to the raw materials used, and also in the chemical treatment employed. Their respective products vary from each other in regard to strength, fineness, lustre, permeability to moisture, etc. In all, however, the essential feature of their manufacture consists of a succession of chemical processes applied to cellulose, derived generally from wood or cotton. In the viscose method, for example, sulphite wood pulp, obtained from pine or spruce logs, forms the raw material. The cellulose is first converted into a viscous pulp, which is then squeezed through small nozzles and emerges in the form of continuous filaments, which after further chemical treatment can be converted into yarn by a ‘doubling process.’ More recently, it has been found possible to produce short lengths known as ‘staple-fibre,’ which can be spun like cotton or wool.
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The Artificial Silk Industry. Nature 122, 579–580 (1928). https://doi.org/10.1038/122579a0