Fabric Manufacturing

What is Modal fabric? Understanding How modal is made, Modal Fabric Properties, and Application

When you’re reading the article title you may not know the terms “modal fabric.” If you have not heard of the term before don’t feel alone. Modal fabric has been around for over half a century, but it is not used as frequently as cotton or polyester. It is a simple kind of rayon material that is made from the fibers that are harvested from one specific kind of tree. To become familiar with What is modal fabric? understanding how modal is made, modal Fabric properties, and application, then you have to follow the article.

What is Modal fabric?

Modal is a wood pulp-based and semi-synthetic cellulosic fabric. It is also known as modal rayon. In Japan, modal rayon was first invented in 1951. A simpler process of making modal rayon doesn’t produce much waste. As a result, many manufacturers and consumers have noticed a significant difference in the feel of modal rayon and viscose rayon.

Modal is considered more eco-friendly and alternative to viscose and cotton. Because beech trees don’t require much water to grow, consequently, the production process uses about 10 to 20 times less water.

What is Modal Made from:

Modal fabric is made from pure wooden chips from the beech tree called ‘European Schneider Zelkova’. It’s used primarily for consumer textiles. The modal could be a form of rayon. Viscose rayon can be obtained from the wood pulp from a number of different trees. But modal fabric must be obtained from beech wood.

How is Modal Fabric Made?

Modal fabric is made by following the process:

  1.  Harvesting of Trees: The modal fabric production process begins with the harvesting of beech trees to be rendered into cellulose.
  2.  Extracting the Cellulose: These trees are broken down into chip tare then purified to extract their cellulose content.
  3.   teeping the Sheet: This extracted cellulose is formed into sheets and these sheets are then steeped in vats of Sodium hydro-oxide called caustic soda.
  4.  Breaking into crumbs: The sheets are broken into crumbs and immersed in carbon disulfide to create sodium cellulose xanthate.
  5.  Creating Fibers: This cellulose xanthate is then immersed in caustic soda once more to create a syrupy solution that is immediately forced through a spinneret to create fibers.
  6.  Forming to Yarn: These fibers are then immersed in the sulfuric acid, stretched and formed into yarn. The resulting yarn is then washed bleached, rinsed, dried, and loaded into spools.
  7.  Finishing: The modal yarn is ready to subject to treatment that may be applied before it is woven into a fabric.
  8. Weaving: Finish yarn is ready for weaving. After the weaving and dyeing process, the finished modal fabric is going to make textiles.

Modal Fabric Properties:

Characteristics Properties
1.       Breaking Strength High
2.       Fabric possible thread count variations 150-300
3.       Density (g/cm3) 1.53
4.       Fabric breathability Very breathable
5.       Moisture-wicking abilities High
6.       Moisture Regain (%) 11.8%
7.       Tenacity (GPD) 2.2‐4.0 (dry)
3.8‐5.0 (wet)
8.       Work of rupture (mN/tex) 11.5       
9.       Initial Modulus (mN/tex) 13300
10.   Heat retention abilities Low
11.   Stretchability High

Application:

Modal fabrics are widely used in clothing as a replacement for cotton. It can be used on its own or in a blend with cotton, wool, and other manmade fibers such as viscose, spandex, and so on.  Application area of modal are:

  1. Soft modal fabric is very popular for both clothing and household textiles.
  2. It is often used for tablecloths, bathrobes, bed linen, upholstery, and so on, in home furnishings.
  3. Commonly used in Sportswear, underwear, outerwear, and T-shirts.
  4. Mostly find applications in undergarments, leisurewear, and toweling purposes.
  5. Exclusively in knitwear markets, modal having high‐end apparel and also non-apparel products. It is used exclusively for soft flowing tops and lingerie.
  6. Modal is used in various technical textile applications. Such as socks, abrasive ground fabric, rubber cloths, stockings tire cord, and so on.

Modal vs Cotton Fabric

Hand Feels: Compared with cotton, modal is soft and smooth to the touch. Though cotton is regarded as one of the softest fabrics around. But Modal has a very smooth and silky feel. It is a type of rayon that boasts a superior silky feel. In this segment, a modal will be a winner for any fashion lover.

Price: Cotton will win in this segment of affordability. The modal price is much higher than cotton. Cotton is the winner of this segment.

Breathability: Both modal and cotton made products are highly breathable and water absorbent. Modal is more than 50% permeable than cotton. Modal clothings are being highly breathable than cotton.

Uses: Modal has got a reputation as a luxury textile commodity. It can also adapt and work well when blended with other natural fibers such as cotton and wool. These blends in the modal fabric can provide insulation for the wearer while still maintaining a luxurious texture. This is why modal is incredibly popular as sportswear, conventional clothes, and for making high-end fabric accessories like mantles, luxury bed sheets, pillow covers, and dresses.

Cotton is used to produce almost anything. It’s a versatile fabric which makes it a perfect candidate for the production of different textile and apparel products. Cotton can be also regularly blended with other fabrics to increase its strength and softness.

Durability: In terms of durability, the modal will win. Modal fabric is stronger than cotton due to its long, and tightly woven fibers. Its moisture-wicking properties give it a slight edge over cotton. It doesn’t mean that cotton isn’t a durable material. But modal fabric strength and breathability make it one of the most sought-after fabrics in the market.

Warmth: Cotton is less porous than modal. Cotton has a slight advantage in terms of keeping the body warmer. If winters are not as aggressive, and you can purchase a soft and airy modal fabric. But cotton made clothing are recommended over modal.

Washing and Drying: Both of these materials are very comparable. Both need efficient and proper washing and drying. Modal dries a bit faster. Though it needs to be ironed regularly to conserve its rich properties. Cotton doesn’t require that much maintenance to be well-kept.

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