Cellulose Acetate

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  • Cellulose acetate, synthetic compound derived from the acetylation of the plant substance cellulose.
  • Cellulose acetate is spun into textile fibres known variously as acetate rayon, acetate, or triacetate.
  • It can also be molded into solid plastic parts such as tool handles or cast into film for photography or food wrapping, though its use in these applications has diminished.
  • Cellulose acetate was first prepared by Paul Schützenberger in 1865. It took another 29 years before Charles Cross and Edward Bevan patented a process for its manufacture.
  • When exposed to heat, moisture or acids in the film base begin to deteriorate to an unusable state, releasing acetic acid with a characteristic vinegary smell, causing the process to be known as "vinegar syndrome."
  • Cellulose acetate fiber is one of the earliest synthetic fibers and is based on cotton or tree pulp cellulose ("biopolymers").
  • These "cellulosic fibers" have been replaced in may applications by cheaper petro-based fibers (nylon and polyester) in recent decades.
  • The cellulose acetate dialyzers involved in the September 1996 incident are believed to have been manufactured more than ten years ago. It is not known to what extent age or storage conditions played a role in this incident.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently analyzing cellulose acetate dialyzers in an attempt to identify leachable materials that may be produced by storage at extreme temperatures and/or over long periods of time.
  • While use of cellulose acetate has largely been superseded by injection moulding with more modern thermoplastics, some up-market spectacles are still made in this way.
  • This is most often the case when colour blends/effect cannot be produced by injection moulding. A popular example is the imitation tortoise shell effect.

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