How is Polyester made?
Polyester is a synthetic fibre that is similar to Polyamide, although it is generally stronger and less shiny in appearance. It was first produced commercially in 1941 under the trade name Terylene.
Polyester is a synthetic polymer made from purified terephthalic acid. This is a type of Petroleum material and from it; firstly, alcohol and acids are derived. Once this has happened, the acids and alcohols are reacted in a vacuum at high temperatures. This process is called condensation polymerisation. The resulting solution is cooled so that it hardens and is then cut into chips. These chips are heated and then follow a manufacturing process very similar to that of most manufactured fibres. The liquid solution is fed through a spinneret with the application of pressure and once this is done, the filaments are left to cool. These filaments then go through the drawing stage. This means that they are stretched out to approximately 5 times their original length. This makes the filaments the required thickness and also improves the strength of them.
These filaments are them almost ready to be manufactured into fabrics. Lastly they are finished by adding a crimp to them and cutting them down to staple lengths as required.
Many different finishes can be applied to polyester in the final stages such as a delusterant to make the usually shiny fabric dull or semi-dull. Crimping can also increase the fibres insulation properties and give it more bulk and texture.
These polyester fibres are then either knitted or woven into fabrics. They can be made using 100% Polyester, but often they are blended with natural fibres. The most popular blends are Cotton and Wool with the ‘classic’ being 55% Polyester and 45% Wool.
Properties of Polyester
- Inexpensive to manufacture
- Crease resistant
- Shape retention
- Quick drying
- Crisp Handle
- Resistant to moths, mildew, heat and chemicals
- Colour Retention
- Blends easily with natural fibres
- Can be heat treated to produce permanent creases.
End uses of Polyester
- Home Furnishings
- Plastic Bottles
- Musical Instruments
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