n.a plastic comprised of hydrolyzed cellulose that is commonly found as a base of photographic film and other audiovisual media and which releases acetic acid as it degradesArbaugh 1939, 106Motion-picture film is of two kinds, cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate. . . . Cellulose acetate film is no more inflammable than paper but when subjected to heat and dry air it curls and warps, a characteristic which has limited its value for record purposes.Raney 1939, 145We shift from cellulose nitrate, despite its superior flexibility, over to cellulose acetate, and thus get out of the gas and gunpowder range, while preserving nimbleness by keeping an eye to humidity.Calhoun 1967, 521The term “acetate film” is used here in the generic sense of any film having a base composed of cellulose diacetate, cellulose triacetate, or the mixed esters—cellulose acetate propionate or cellulose acetate butyrate. All have been used for motion-picture film base at various times, but since about 1950 cellulose triacetate base has been employed for most professional motion-picture films. The stock used for archival purposes should conform to the USA standards for safety film and permanent record film.ARSC 1999Cellulose acetate ¶ A material used as a tape base and also as the coating on a direct-cut lacquer disc. It is the most fungal resistant of the cellulosics, and, although the best instantaneous recording medium for many years until magnetic tape on a polyester base, it is an unstable medium with a limited storage life. The term “acetate” is commonly used as a synonym for an instantaneous or direct recording as well. See also Lacquer disc.Leggio, Berthon, and Webb 2000Cellulose acetate is the generic term used to describe a variety of acetylated cellulose polymers, including cellulose diacetate, cellulose triacetate and the mixed esters of cellulose acetate propionate and cellulose acetate butyrate.Ritzenthaler 2010, 373Cellulose acetate: An extruded plastic made from hydrolyzed cellulose, usually wood pulp or cotton, dissolved in acetone. Clear, flexible, polymeric plastic film used in heat-sealing lamination and as a base for photographs. A hygroscopic material; dimensionally unstable and capable of releasing acetic acid gas as it ages; the distinctive odor associated with this deterioration is referred to as “vinegar syndrome.” Variant forms of cellulose acetate include cellulose diacetate and cellulose triacetate. Cellulose diacetate was commonly used as the base of photographic and motion picture films beginning in the early twentieth century. It was replaced by cellulose triacetate in the mid-twentieth century.Capell 2010, 240Cellulose acetate was the earliest type of acetate film produced, and, although it was not flammable, it was not very moisture resistant, and fluctuations in humidity could distort it. Cellulose diacetate film soon followed, but this also proved to have problems with distortion, shrinkage, and embrittlement. Cellulose triacetate gradually began to replace cellulose diacetate as a film base, beginning in 1947, and it is still used today.NEDCC 2020b, 4Beginning in the mid-1920s, highly flammable nitrate film was slowly replaced with cellulose acetate film base (cellulose diacetate, cellulose acetate propiarate [propionate], cellulose acetate butyrate and cellulose triacetate). It became known as “Safety” film. Despite this name, cellulose acetates do have stability problems.
Variant forms of cellulose acetate include cellulose diacetate and cellulose triacetate. Cellulose diacetate was commonly used as the base of photographic and motion picture films beginning in the early twentieth century. It was replaced by cellulose triacetate in the mid-twentieth century. Use of cellulose triacetate as a film base was largely, but not entirely, superseded by polyester beginning in the 1950s. Clear sheets of cellulose triacetate are used as protective sleeves for photographs. Deterioration of cellulose acetate films often results in a condition called vinegar syndrome.