What Is Mazzucchelli Zyl Acetate?

Elvis Always On My Minds made with Mazzuchelli Zyl

Over the years eyewear companies have talked about Mazzucchelli Zyl, the best quality zyl acetate in the market. In fact in many eyewear companies website they will say ‘We use only the finest Mazzucchelli Acetate’ for our eyewear. So why is so good?

Investigating Mazzucchelli, I couldn’t really find the answer as to exactly why they were the best zyl acetate in the market. Other than the fact that working with good quality zyl, is better than cheap zyl. Adjusts easier, don’t break, it’s strong, it stays in adjustment providing better overall customer service to your patients, a good thing.

What I do know and that can easily be explained to your patients as to ‘Why Are Eyeglasses So Expensive’ and one of the reasons is the use of top quality zyl acetate and particularly if using Mazzucchelli Zyl.

Mazzucchelli Zyl has been in the plastic industry since 1849, and have set out to become one of the most innovative companies in plastic. In fact their market encompass more than just eyewear, costume jewelry, safety, sports eyewear and they have just broken into the furniture market with a new material called Sicobloc, which will be used from floor tiles to snowboards. If you go on their website you will find all sorts of useful information about plastics and zyl acetate.

A little about Zyl:

From Chris Rhyser on Optiboard http://www.optiboard.com/forums/showthread.php/9097-Quality-of-Zyl-between-manufacturers

‘ Although cellulose acetate was first prepared in 1865 by the French chemist Paul Schützenberger, it was not until 1894 that the first industrial process for its manufacture was patented in the UK by Charles Cross and Edward Bevan. At about the same time, Little in the US made cellulose acetate filaments experimentally, as did Bronnert in Germany. However, this material was essentially cellulose triacetate, a rather intractable polymer, not readily soluble in commonly available solvents. In 1904 George Miles, an American chemist, discovered that if the polymer was partially hydrolysed, it became soluble in acetone.

The Swiss brothers Henri and Camille Dreyfus used this procedure for lacquer and film production at Basle in 1910, and at the outbreak of World War I set up a factory in Spondon, Derbyshire, England to make acetate ‘dope’ for waterproofing and stiffening fabric covered aeroplane wings. They set up a similar plant at Cumberland, Md., for the US army in 1917.

After the war they concentrated their efforts in England, and in 1919 introduced the first acetate yarn Celanese.

In 1924, they switched entirely to the US where acetone and acetic anhydride were cheaply available. In the same year, rayon became adopted as a generic term for all ‘artificial silk’.

Cellulose acetate (CA) in combination with plasticizers, such as diethyl and dimethyl phthalate, produces a plastics material which can be heat softened and forced under pressure into a cool mould. This injection moulding process was developed by Dr Arthur Eichengrün of Celonwerke to exploit the moulding properties of the plasticized CA moulding materials he had produced. His first injection moulding machine had a maximum shot weight of about 8 gm provided by a hand-operated plunger mechanism, a far cry from today’s machines, some of which have a maximum moulding size in excess of 100 kg.

CA plastics are tough with deep gloss and high transparency. They possess a ‘feel’ which is different to other plastics and which is often described as more ‘natural’. This may explain why CA has retained its popularity for making items which are handled frequently such as spectacle frames and tool handles, many transparent tool handles are still made from cellulose acetate and its sister material cellulose butyrate. Other items made from CA included combs, fashion accessories, pen barrels and toys, but these are now more likely to be moulded from more modern thermoplastics.

Early spectacle frames were cut from sheet material, mostly in imitation tortoiseshell which was often referred to as ‘optical shell’. Reinforcing nickel wires for the side arms were forced into heat-softened strips of CA sheet. Nowadays, frames are generally moulded into shape – a more economic process. However, certain high-class frames are still made using the old process, especially to achieve special colour effects not possible using injection moulding.

Despite being much less flammable than cellulose nitrate, acetate film did not become established for photographic use until after World War II because of the technical excellence of celluloid and the vested interests of film manufacturers. There was, however, a demand for transparent sheet material in laminated safety glass, especially car windscreens before toughened glass became available for this purpose.

Ironically, cellulose triacetate which was unsuccessful initially, returned to favour when a suitable, relatively non-toxic solvent (dichloromethane ) became available in the 1940s. Since then photographic film has been almost entirely based on cellulose triacetate and Tricel cellulose triacetate fibres were introduced in 1954.

Few plastics can boast such a long pedigree as cellulose acetate and, being made entirely from renewable resources, CA may yet have a long way to run’

From Diane at Optiboard:

Yes, there is a difference in zyl between manufacturers. Zyl is the trade name which is short for zylonite. It is, in reality, cellulose acetate, and the best available is Italian Mazzucchelli acetate. Zyl originates from natural cotton fibers or flakes, and wood flakes. Mazzucchelli acetate begins as cellulose acetate granules, and even within this company, there are varying grades of the granules depending on the use.

Here is a link that discusses the various grades of acetate granules from Mazzucchelli. http://www.mazzucchelli1849.it/newsi…/appl_gran.htm

What I know, the more you know about your products the better you will be in providing the best customer service and a competitive edge.

VEW Mid-Page 19


  1. This was facinating. I first learned about M.Z.
    when I worked for Seregenti and it was the only material we use for “plastic” frames. We saw a ttraining film from their factory that showed the sheet process. Very cool!

    Thanks for this one.


  2. Hey Thanks for this. It was totally fascinating. do you know of any good books about making acetate frames by hand and/or place to get some samples? Can I melt the stuff at the office? Or is it better to cut and assemble.

    Linda, is that video available on the web?



  3. Hello I am the Marketing Director of Mazzucchelli. Our manufacturing in Italy and Asia offer the first quality acetate material. We are the only acetate producers that complies to intl. regulations such as REACH agreement or phtalate certified level.

    I am available for any inquiry about our beautiful product and company.


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