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Differences between rayon and viscose fabrics

Are rayon and viscose synonymous? It is logical that this question is asked, as they are fabrics that at first glance look very similar.

However, they differ in several essential points and we are going to explain them in this post, so don't miss the details!

What type of fabric is rayon?

Rayon or artificial silk is a type of fabric whose origin dates back to China at the end of the 19th century. Thanks to a technique based on the immersion of cellulose through chemical processes, it is produced from the wood or bamboo. It has the advantage of being a very resistant and soft fabric. 

We are talking about a very versatile fibre that has the same properties in terms of comfort as other natural fibres, being able to imitate the feel of silk, wool, cotton or linen. In addition, it can be easily dyed in other colours. Rayon fabrics are soft, light, fresh, comfortable and highly absorbent, and allow  transpiration.

Until 1924 it was sold as "artificial silk". Until the 1930s, rayon was only produced for threeds, and a decade later high tenacity rayon was developed. This was followed by further studies that allowed the creation of HWM rayon in the 1950s, improving its strength and durability.

➡️ Which is the composition of this fabric? 

Rayon is composed of regenerated cellulose, or a type of regenerated cellulose fibre in which its components do not have 15% of the oxydryl group. In this sense, rayon fabric is 100% cellulose, so its chemical composition is the same as the natural cell.

As for its molecular structure, it is the same as linen and cotton, with the peculiarity that its molecular chains are shorter and do not form so many small crystals. 

What type of fabric is viscose fabric?

Viscose is a type of fabric made by the cellulose xanthate process and from vegetable fibres. It is considered an artificial fabric because several chemical compounds are involved in its manufacture. It is necessary to dissolve the plant tissue and then regenerate it through different chemical processes. 

➡️ Characteristics of this fabric 

Fabrics containing viscose tend to be very soft and fine, so they are often used in the textile industry thanks to their drape and movement. It is also strong and durable thanks to the chemical processes it receives during its production. 

It is sometimes possible to confuse viscose with linen, as the two fabrics have very similar characteristics. However, viscose has greater elasticity, which translates into greater durability of the piece. The fibres that make up this fabric allow for a good fit of the garments, which will also be easy to wash and iron. Viscose fabrics are fresh, soft and breathable.  

So what is the difference between rayon and viscose? 

As we have seen throughout this post, at first glance rayon and viscose may appear to be the same. This is logical, since both are composed of cellulose, are soft and resistant, which is why they are commonly used in the manufacture of workwear.

However, they are still different fabrics and present notable differences that should be mentioned: 

  • Their manufacturing process is different, as we have already mentioned.
  • The rayon production process is environmentally friendly. 


As we have seen throughout this post, rayon and viscose may seem to be the same, but they are not. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, as well as their particular uses depending on their characteristics. 

The choice of one or the other for textile garments will then depend on the specific needs for which they are made. At Norvil we are committed to top quality fabrics for our workwear. Our aim is to create comfortable, durable and functional uniforms