What is Modal Fabric?

Modal is a semi-synthetic yarn, made from the pulp of beech trees. Comfy, breathable and absorbent, modal has become a hugely popular material for underwear and activewear in recent decades.

Though we use it mainly as part of blends with cotton and other fibres, pure modal garments occupy their own niche, and are a popular alternative to pure cotton.

In terms of composition, modal is very similar to another common semi-synthetic fibre, viscose rayon, which is also derived from the cellulose of wood pulp. Modal was first invented in Japan in 1951 as an alternative to viscose production. This new yarn eliminated a lot of the industrial waste produced when manufacturing older forms of rayon, but also resulted in a better end product.

Modal is more lightweight, flexible, and breathable than its fully synthetic counterparts, which is a big part of why it’s become such a popular choice for activewear companies. Its moisture wicking properties have also made it a popular choice for bedding.

How is Modal Fabric Made?

Modal starts its life as trees, mainly beech trees, which are harvested and shredded into chips so that they can have their cellulose extracted.

This cellulose is then treated with a few different chemicals, creating a syrupy solution which is pressed through a spinneret to give it a fibrous form. This is then treated with sulphuric acid, and stretched so that it can be turned into a yarn.

Once it’s reached its yarn state, modal can be given any final treatment steps, loaded onto spools, and shipped to clothing manufacturers.

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