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Cupro Cuprammonium Rayon Fabric

The Truth About Cupro (Cuprammonium Rayon Fabric)

Cupro fabric is a semi-synthetic textile made of natural cellulosic polymers. It's a very versatile material used in many different applications today, including clothing fabrics in the fashion industry.

Cupro is very soft, comfortable, lightweight, breathable, moisture absorbent, and anti-bacterial. The biggest advantage of cupro fabric is its very low cost.

Cupro is used in many types of fashion products on the market, mostly in cheaply produced garments as the primary fiber content or a substantial part of the fiber composition.

Unfortunately, manufacturing cupro fabric from plants or wood requires heavy processing. Plant pulp needs to be disintegrated into a viscous liquid before being reconstructed into fibers.

Cupro production is usually very toxic. A lot of energy, water, and chemicals such as copper, ammonia, and caustic soda are used in cupro fabrication. These highly hazardous substances poison the environment and put workers' health at risk.

Here is the truth about cupro fabric that most companies are hiding from you.

In this article:

  1. What is cupro fabric?
  2. Is cupro the same as rayon?
  3. What material is Bemberg?
  4. Is cupro natural or synthetic?
  5. Is cupro fabric cheap?
  6. Is cupro a good fabric?
  7. What is the Cuprammonium process?
  8. Is cupro breathable?
  9. What does cupro feel like?
  10. Is cupro good for summer?
  11. Is cupro see-through?
  12. Does cupro wrinkle easily?
  13. Is cupro better than silk?
  14. How do you care for cupro?
  15. Is cupro fabric toxic?
  16. Can cupro be recycled?
  17. Is cupro environmentally friendly?
  18. Sustainable alternative to cupro fabric

 



What is cupro fabric?

what is Cupro Cuprammonium Rayon Fabric

Cuprammonium rayon, also known as Cupro, is a semi-synthetic, man-made, cellulosic fiber derived from plants or wood. It's made of natural polymers called cellulose.

Cupro fabric is a type of semi-synthetic textile derived from renewable and natural resources, similar to viscose rayon, modal, lyocell, and acetate.

The term cupro comes from cuprammonium rayon, made from cellulose dissolved in cuprammonium, a soluble compound of copper, and ammonia in caustic soda. It's also known as Cupra or ammonia silk.



Is cupro the same as rayon?

Both cupro and rayon are polymers that can be classified as semi-synthetic, man-made, and cellulosic. Cupro is a type of rayon manufactured through the Cuprammonium process that uses copper and ammonia.

Rayon fabric was developed back in about 1855 but the term rayon was officially adopted in 1924.

Rayon, commonly referred to as viscose or viscose rayon, is a whole group of cellulosic fibers made from cellulose-based material such as trees, bamboo, soy, fruits, and agricultural waste.

The global production of man-made cellulosic fibers is 6.7 million tons globally. It accounts for 6.2% of all fiber production worldwide.

Rayon is the most broadly used man-made cellulosic fiber. It has around 79% market share with 5.3 million tons produced in 2018.




What material is Bemberg?

cupro material bemberg

 

Bemberg is a brand name for a type of cupro fiber. It was owned by J. P. Bemberg, a German rayon manufacturer who began to produce semi-synthetic fibers commercially using the cuprammonium process in 1897.

Cupro, Bemberg, and Cuprammonium rayon are commonly used interchangeably and mean the same thing, especially in the textile and apparel industry.



Is cupro natural or synthetic and man-made?

Cupro is considered semi-synthetic and man-made from chemically regenerated cellulose. Cellulose is an organic polymer and an important structural component of the primary cell wall of natural resources such as plants or wood.

Cupro isn't a natural fabric but is manufactured through the Cuprammonium process from organic and renewable resources such as plants, trees, fruits, and agricultural waste.




Is cupro fabric cheap?

Compared to natural fibers such as cotton or linen, the biggest advantage of cupro fabric is its very low cost. Cupro is knitted or woven into fabrics for fashion to replace silk or polyester as a cheap substitute option.

It's widely used for apparel such as shirts, dresses, pants, suits, jackets, and undergarments. The material is readily available, easily dyed, and often blended with other types of fiber to enhance its properties.

Fashion brands and clothing designers around the world use various semi-synthetic fabrics such as cupro for their collections. As consumers demand stylish and trendy clothes faster at an affordable price, cupro's popularity is rising.



Is cupro a good fabric?

Cupro Cuprammonium Rayon good Fabric


Cupro is very soft, comfortable, lightweight, breathable, moisture absorbent, and anti-bacterial. The biggest advantage of cupro fabric is its very low cost. Cupro is also highly resistant and durable with a luxurious look like silk.

Cupro is used in many types of fashion products by apparel brands and fashion designers around the world. It's a cheap silk substitute, mostly used in garments as the primary fiber content or a substantial part of the fiber composition.




What is the Cuprammonium process?

The Cuprammonium process dissolves plant-based pulp into a viscous solution using chemicals such as copper, ammonia, and a solvent like caustic soda. It results in regenerated cellulosic fibers of Cuprammonium rayon used for textile manufacturing.

Cupro fabric is produced by the dissolution of a cellulosic solution. It's generally made in facilities that also produce other types of semi-synthetic materials, including viscose rayon, lyocell, modal, and acetate.

Cupro is a rayon fiber made from plant-based materials. It's made by combining synthetic chemicals (ammonia) extracted from natural gas, which is a non-renewable resource and inherently a pollutant.

Ammonia and cupro production are very energy-intensive processes, consuming a large number of resources and producing a lot of carbon emissions.

To create cupro fibers used in the textile and apparel industry, cellulose is melted and extruded through spinning, a process that employs a heated mechanical spinneret with tiny holes.

Depending on the size and shape of the holes, the characteristics, length, and thickness of the resulting cupro fiber vary.

Cupro fibers are cooled down, washed, purified, and extended to make long filaments. They are then ready to be spun into yarns, which are woven into fabrics by textile manufacturers.

The most well-known known and largest producer of cupro fibers today is Asahi Kasei Corporation, a Japanese company. The Asahi Kasei Corporation makes Bemberg from post-industrial cotton waste.

It uses a cotton linter that isn't normally used for textiles: short cotton fibers clinging to cotton seeds after ginning.

 

Cupro Cuprammonium Rayon Fabric cotton



Is cupro breathable?

Cupro fabric is lightweight, comfortable, soft, and breathable. It's a great material for everyday clothing as well as sportswear since it's breathable and durable.

Cupro is a unique material with many unique properties. It has good elasticity, tensile strength, resilience, and durability. Cupro fabric is affordable, hypoallergenic, absorbent, and quick-drying.




What does cupro feel like?

Cupro fabric looks and feels like luxurious silk. It's a pleasant, soft, and lightweight material praise for its high quality and comfort. Cupro is very pleasant to the touch.

It drapes and hangs well and has multiple sheens and color options. Cupro has a luxurious look and hand feel and is often used for fashion to replace silk as a cheap substitute option.



Is cupro good for summer?

Cupro Cuprammonium Rayon summer Fabric

Cupro is an ideal fabric for summer clothing. It's extremely soft, lightweight, and breathable. Cupro fibers are very pleasant to the touch, water-absorbent, and dry quickly.

Clothes made of cupro are comfortable, cool, luxurious, and good for warmer, humid weather with moisture-wicking properties. Cupro fabric is very versatile and used for men's and women's summer clothing alike.




Is cupro see-through?

Cupro is lightweight, soft, sheer, and transparent. The material can be made translucent using thin thread or low density of knitting. Cupro fabrics can be made see-through but all aren't necessarily.

Similar to silk, nylon, and rayon, cupro is used for sheer fabrics in a wide variety of colors, shades, patterns, and designs. Cupro is used in clothing, in garments such as stockings, tights, dancewear, lingerie, and gowns.

 

cupro rayon fabric see through



Does cupro wrinkle easily?

Cupro fabric has good elasticity and flexibility, making it quite resistant to wrinkling and pilling. Cupro doesn't wrinkle easily and offers good durability and resilience.

Cupro is also moisture absorbent and anti-bacterial. It's used in many types of clothing on the market, mostly in cheaply produced garments as the primary fiber content or a substantial part of the fiber composition.




Is cupro better than silk?

Cupro Cuprammonium Rayon Fabric silk

Cupro is better than silk because it's more affordable, durable, and cruelty-free. It's well-known for its high comfort, soft hand feel, and luxurious look like silk.

Cupro is a cheap, breathable, lightweight, and vegan silk substitute. It's is made using plant-based materials like wood and organic waste. Since cupro is a man-made fiber, it's resistant to moths and mildew, unlike silk.



How do you care for cupro?

Cupro fabrics are easy to wash and care for. They can be washed in the washing machine with a cool wash setting at a temperature lower than 40 degrees Celcius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and a tumbling speed lower than 600 revolutions per minute.

Taking good care of your clothes is one of the best ways to live more sustainably and ensure that they last longer. Give special attention to cupro fabrics, as they won't resist high temperature and tumbling speeds.

Extend the life of your clothes and the time you can wear them by taking good care of them and avoiding common mistakes. You can limit pressure on natural resources, reduces waste, pollution, and emissions.

Before washing cupro fabrics, read the care instructions that can be found on the care tag. This way, you can easily determine if the garment is washable.

The washing instructions may vary depending on the fabric's blend. Pure cupro fabrics can be cleaned and rinsed in cold water.

To save water, energy, and preserve the quality of your garment, it's best to use a temperature lower than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). It saves energy and prevents fabrics from melting.

Don't use any chlorine-based or strong detergent and use a gentle cycle in the washer to avoid high spin speeds. Make sure the washing speed doesn't exceed 600 revolutions per minute.

Do not dry cupro fabrics in a tumble drier. They have very low thermal resistance and will melt under high temperatures. The more sustainable way of drying your clothes is to hang them to dry.

Place them on a line in fresh air rather than using a dryer. It preserves the quality of your garments and saves an enormous amount of energy, carbon emissions, and money.

You can also lay the fabric down on a towel for a while, then flip it over. Or you can hang it up on a hanger to help it dry naturally.

Iron your clothes only when it's necessary. If you decide to iron cupro fabrics, select the lowest temperature possible to prevent any damage.

Iron the fabric through a damp cloth if possible. Cupro fibers can easily melt and too much ironing will eventually damage the fabric.

Cupro doesn't resist chemicals very well. Keep chemical-based glues, perfume, and nail polish remover, and alcohol-based solvents far away from your clothes.

Don't use acetone or organic solvents to remove stains either. They will dissolve the fibers and cause irreversible damage to the garment.




Is cupro fabric toxic?

Cupro production is usually very toxic. A lot of energy, water, and chemicals such as copper, ammonia, and caustic soda are used in cupro fabrication. These highly hazardous substances poison the environment and put workers' health at risk.

If you've decided to stop buying synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon because they are by-products of the oil industry, don't choose cupro instead. It might be even worse.

Most fabrics and dyes used in the textile and apparel industry are toxic. They undergo harsh chemical treatments for washing, bleaching, dyeing, coating, and finishing.

Certain textiles are highly dangerous. Wearing toxic fabrics may lead to cancer, hormonal dysfunction, insomnia, nausea, immunity harm, anorexia, and behavioral problems.

Cupro manufacturing process emits poisonous gas. The chemicals used during cupro fabrication also pollute drinking water, the air, and soil, damaging ecosystems, plants, and animals' health.

An enormous amount of water gets polluted during the production of cupro fibers. Textile manufacturers use dangerously toxic chemicals and methods to produce rayon-like materials.

Fortunately, some cupro and rayon manufacturers are doing their best to protect the environment. Eco-friendly production facilities can almost fully recover and reuse water, waste, and chemicals with closed-loop processes.

Asahi Kasei Corporation has achieved almost 100% zero emissions (99.8% in 2016) by reusing fiber waste as fuel for power generation. It makes constant efforts to reduce and recycle waste.

When buying new clothing, it's important to think of what you are putting on your skin. The skin is by far the body's largest organ. You have to protect it and treat it well to stay healthy.

The best you can do is get informed and don't purchase or wear harmful fabrics. With a bit of knowledge on this matter, you could greatly improve the health of your skin and body.



Can cupro be recycled?

Similar to rayon garments, cupro fabrics can be recycled when they are no longer usable. Simply drop off your clothes made of cupro at organizations that have direct relationships with commercial textile recyclers.

You can join recycling programs from towns, councils, cities, brands, and retailers that collect and recycle used items like clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, decor, upholstery, and furniture.

You can also visit websites like RecycleNow to find out what you can recycle at home or in your local area. Know what you can recycle, and where, to easily promote recycling at home and limit tremendous amounts of waste otherwise destined to landfill.




Is cupro environmentally friendly?

Cupro Cuprammonium Rayon durable Fabric

The manufacturing of cupro fabric isn't environmentally friendly. A lot of energy, water, and chemicals are used in cupro fabrication. Even if cupro is made of natural raw materials, its production is very polluting and wasteful.

The textile industry is responsible for 17-20% of the world's wastewater. Wastewater transport pollutants to rivers, water sources, and the ocean. Only 20% of the world's wastewater receives proper treatment.

Semi-synthetic cellulosic fabrics like cupro and rayon have raised deep environmental concerns. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that cupro is a natural or organic fiber.

The main material used for its production is cellulose extracted from renewable resources such as trees, plants, fruits, and agricultural waste. But cupro production in poorly regulated facilities not only damages the nearby environment but also endangers workers' health.

Like viscose rayon, cupro production involves toxic solvents. In Europe and the United States, environmental regulations have made cupro production more expensive than it used to be.

Cupro fabric production has huge negative impacts on the environment and human health. Many workers in cupro production facilities are exposed to dust and fumes. They irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

Acids and other toxic chemicals can easily leak into waterways and pollute water sources. Manufacturing fabrics from plants or wood requires heavy processing.

The negative consequences of cupro fabric production don’t end there. Cupro fabric isn't biodegradable or compostable. It increases our consumption of natural gas and dependency.

Cupro fabric takes years to decompose. As cupro breaks down, it releases toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases into the environment.

Semi-synthetic fabrics like cupro destroy ecosystems and nature. They contribute to the high amount of clothing waste that ends up in landfills every year.

Cupro fabric releases microfibers into the environment. These microfibers are consumed by fish and birds and end up in our food, lungs, and stomachs. They pollute entire food chains, kill land and marine wildlife, and endanger human health.



Sustainable alternative to cupro fabric

Making cupro fabrics in highly regulated and sustainable production facilities could improve its eco-friendliness.

A better alternative to cupro fabric is lyocell. Tencel, a very popular brand of lyocell, is an environmentally friendly cellulosic fiber produced sustainably.

Tencel lyocell is made of cellulose from wood pulp like acetate. It's a semi-synthetic fiber made from renewable materials. Lyocell isn't natural but its impact on the environment is very low compared to other synthetic fibers.

Sustainable lyocell production facilities can almost fully recover and reuse water and chemicals with closed-loop processes. When more than 99% of the solvent is recycled, lyocell production is considered eco-friendly.

The main ingredients used in lyocell fabrication are N-Methylmorpholine N-oxide (NMMO) and water. NMMO, also commonly called amine oxide, is considered non-toxic and is easily regenerated.

Lyocell is arguably one of the most eco-friendly cellulosic fibers. Usually made from wood, it can also be produced out of bamboo, soy, seaweed, or coconut.

Read our selection of the most popular, affordable, and sustainable clothing brands that create eco-friendly clothing from Tencel lyocell.


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About the Author: Alex Assoune

Alex Assoune Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.

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Panaprium is proud to be 100% independent with no sponsorship and free of any influence. Products are carefully handpicked from brands we trust and support. If you buy something through our link, we may earn a commission.
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