Developing a product
A Tencel case study

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Page 1: Introduction

Tencel 3 Image 1Courtaulds is an international chemical company with annual sales of more than £2 billion, employing 17,000 people in 45 countries worldwide. It developed from a small silk weaving business in England in 1816 and became well known in the early part of this century after pioneering the mass production of viscose rayon. This first man-made fibre has played a vital role in the textile and non-wovens industry and it continues to be a major material for manufacturers around the globe.

Acetate yarns and fibres followed the introduction of viscose, with Courtelle acrylic fibre being launched in the 1950s. TENCEL represents the latest in a line of products from this famous heritage. Courtaulds also manufactures coatings - its International Paint brand is a world leader in the marine and yacht market - and most of the world’s airlines and aircraft manufacturers use the company’s aerospace coatings and sealants. Its engineering business designs and builds production plants and equipment throughout the world.

Courtaulds also makes polymer products for such end uses as toothpaste tubes, medical applicators and performance films for high technology industrial end uses and solar control applications on windows. Its chemicals are supplied to a range of industries, including the packaging, photographic, cosmetic and pharmaceutical markets.

What is TENCEL?

As consumers, we identify products in different ways. Branding involves developing features which identify a range of products. TENCEL is Courtaulds brand name for a fibre known generically as lyocell, produced via a revolutionary solvent spun cellulose-based technology. This technology is a development of the traditional process which converts natural occurring cellulose (woodpulp) into material to be used for many different applications and is of major significance to the world’s fibre industry. It is unique not only because of the production process but because of the combination of properties it offers to the world of fashion. For example, its strength means TENCEL is the first fibre, after cotton, that has been used to create authentic denim.

Products are not just developed to meet a single need. The ownership and use of a product involves a whole range of factors that make up the product concept. For example, modern products have generic dimensions comprising key benefits, sensual dimensions such as design, taste or colour and extended dimensions providing additional benefits. On its own or in blends, TENCEL provides tangible benefits for both spinners and weavers through to garment manufacturers, high-fashion designers and the consumer.

For textile manufacturers, it offers the strength to withstand the most demanding of spinning, weaving and knitting processes. It demonstrates strong dye uptake and provides natural, bright vibrant colours on piece dyed or printed fabrics. In addition, TENCEL is being used to make fabrics which are new to the fashion industry, allowing finishers to demonstrate their skills to the full. The results give the designer an aesthetic range second to none. Its strength and versatility make it ideal for blending with materials such as cotton, wool and silk and with other fibres such as Lycra, polyester and nylon. For the wearer, TENCEL garments do not diminish through wash and wear and, in common with other cellulosic fibres such as viscose and cotton, they are immensely comfortable to wear throughout the seasons, because TENCEL ‘breathes’.

TENCEL lends extraordinarily surprising touch and feel aesthetics to classics - such as the chambray style developed in Europe, which retain the authentic look, yet exhibit remarkable fluidity - and feel uniquely soft and smooth. TENCEL is capable of satisfying a whole range of fabric needs from fine fashion ladies’ lightweight blouses and dresswear through to moderately heavy skirtings and men’s and women’s suits, jackets, blazers and sportswear.

Tencel | Developing a product