Cellulose Acetate: Introduction, Properties, and Applications Discussed

Over the years, semi-synthetic resins have gained immense popularity. They are formed through naturally occurring fibers obtained from wood pulp linters and cotton. These resins are mainly referred to as cellulose, one of the most naturally available polymers on the planet. Cellulose is made of two polymers – ester cellulose and ether cellulose. Today, there are a few essential synthetic cellulose esters available such as cellulose acetate-butyrate (CAB), cellulose acetate (CAC), and cellulose acetate-propionate (CAP). The polymers produced from these esters are called ethyl cellulose, butyrate, acetate, and propionate. Cellulose acetate is popular and widely used in many commercial applications. Are you intrigued to know more about cellulose acetate, its properties, and its applications? If that sounds yes, then read this post till the end. 

Know About Cellulose Acetate

As discussed earlier, cellulose acetate is a natural plastic made using purified natural cellulose. This polymer is produced by adding glacial acetic acid and acetic anhydride with sulfuric acid and cotton fiber. In the manufacturing process of cellulose acetate, sulfuric acid triggers the reaction, so we can call it a catalyst. The chemical composition of the above-mentioned polymer produces cellulose triacetate. Furthermore, it is hydrolyzed by adding water. Cellulose acetate is the end result of this reaction.

Cellulose acetate can’t be processed as a thermoplastic in its primary form. It can only be processed using the common plastic technique in compounded form. First, cellulose acetate is blended with the right combination of additives and plasticizers. This composition is melted to form cellulose acetate granules, which are then processed using standard techniques.

A Quick Overview on Properties of Cellulose Acetate

The following properties of cellulose acetate have contributed to its immense popularity, making it a preferred choice for many regular as well as challenging applications.

  • Cellulose acetate is available in translucent and transparent colors.
  • These resins possess excellent mechanical strength and dielectric constant, which have contributed to their increasing use in various applications.
  • They are available in crystal clear composition.
  • Cellulose acetate offers excellent machinability. Thus, it can be shaped into any complex design.
  • As compared to the other polymers, these resins possess better resistance to a variety of chemicals.
  • These resins can be availed in an unlimited range of colors and possess brilliant surface gloss.
  • Cellulose acetate assures excellent chemical resistance to paraffinic hydrocarbons, superior alcohols, solutions with the fatty matter, diluted aqueous solutions with inorganic salts and acidic base.
  • A variety of plasticizers are added to these resins that help improve the moisture resistance and flexibility of these resins.
  • These resins are well-known for their exceptional dimensional stability.

Areas Where Cellulose Acetate Are Used

Cellulose acetate finds applications across industries owing to the aforementioned beneficial properties. Here are some application areas.

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  • Tool handles
  • Oil gauges
  • Protective goggles
  • X-ray films
  • Cigarette filters
  • Clothes and buttons fabrication
  • Inauguration and gift ribbons
  • Surgical products
  • Diapers and sanitary napkins
  • Toys and models
  • Ink pen reservoirs
  • Cosmetic containers
  • Steering wheel covers

Most product manufacturers who prefer cellulose acetate plastic as the core material must source these resins from industry-leading suppliers. MidContinent Plastics is the one of the most popular suppliers of cellulosic resin across the US. The company has been buying and selling cellulose acetate and some other popular plastic resins for several years now.  

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