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The factors of location for rayon plants are availability of raw materials, abundant supply of soft water, supply of skilled labour and consuming centres. U.S.A., Japan, U.K. France, West Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Italy and Canada are the leading producers of rayon and acetate filament yarn in the world.
World production of rayon was 5 million metric tons in 1987-88. Production is divided between staple fibre and filament yarn almost equally. Germany (West), U.K. Italy and France together produce about 29 p.c., U.S.A. 213 p.c. and Japan 12.9 p.c. Rayon production in USA. Commercial production of rayon filament yarn began in 1911 with the establishment of the first rayon plant at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, by the Viscose Company. It spread gradually to middle Atlantic region and especially into the southern Appalachian areas.
Most of the rayon plants are found in middle Atlantic states and southern Appalachian region because of abundant power, soft water, abundant supply of skilled labour, proximity to machinery supplying areas, nearness to the areas supplying cellulose from cotton linters and wood pulp and chemicals and nearness to textile plant consuming the rayon fibre. Cotton linters from cotton belt, wood pulp from Canada and Sweden and chemicals from nearby plants of eastern U.S.A have helped in the setting up of rayon plants. The total production of rayon (stable fibre and filament yam) in U.S.A amounted to 1 million metric tonnes against world, total of 5 million metric tons in 1987-88. Percentage of production comes to 25.
Rayon production in Japan. Japan produced about 0.5 million tons of rayon in 1984-85. She is second to U.S.A. with regard to rayon production. Rayon production is concentrated in central Honshu having the advantages of cheap labour, abundant power and large home and Southeast Asian market. Manufacture of rayon started in 1920. Now production is done with modern machineries. Japan gets her raw materials, wood pulp from Canada, U.S.A., Norway and Sweden and cotton linters from India. Before World War II, she produced about 25% of world's total.
The future of Japan's rayon industry will depend to a great extent on the ability of the people to obtain sufficient quantity of low-priced wood pulp and cotton liters and to develop her own forest resources.