Polyester fabric makes the world go round. It is the most widely used manmade textile in the world. It can be used for on garments, cleaning cloths, furniture, draperies, and countless more applications. Why? Because it has some great characteristics, is low manufacturing cost, and is versatile. But there’s a lot more to polyester than it meets the eye.
It was the product of a study made in 1926. And W.H Carothers named it Terylene. He and other British scientists continued to study the material to develop better ethylene fabrics and in 1941, Carothers patented the Terylene in 1941. But soon after, DuPont purchased its rights and debuted the fabric in 1951.
But polyester’s story is far from complete. In fact, with the rise of using recycled materials, it is definitely here to stay.
What is Polyester?
As mentioned earlier, polyester is very popular, but very few actually know what it is. Basically, it is plastic and made of petroleum. More specifically, it is made up of terephthalic acid and monotheluene glycol, after the occurrence of a scientific process called polymerization between them, it turns into strands of polyester, which is then dried and turned into little pellets that will be melted and spun to create the threads. These threads are then turned into fabrics and polyester cloth in factories.
Polyester Fabric Types
While it can take many shapes or forms, there are three main types: Ethylene Polyester-also known as PET, Plant-Based Polyester, and PCDT polyester. Different kinds have different characteristics and use cases. But to go into more detail:
Ethylene polyester is the most popular in the world. It is used to make plastic bottles, tapes, packaging, cleaning cloths, garments to name a few.
Plant-based polyesters are made from plants, so they are more eco-conscious and a little more expensive. But they have the upside of being biodegradable. This type can be used for most applications, but it is less durable due to being biodegradable, it is less durable.
While not as common as PET due to being more expensive, PCDT has the advantage of being more resilient and elastic. This makes it the choice of fabric for curtains and furniture covers.
What are the Characteristics?
- Very resistant to water-based stains and many chemicals.
- They are very durable and hard-wearing.
- They are easy to maintain, as they can be washed and dried at home, unlike some natural fabrics.
- They don’t absorb water.
- Because they don’t absorb water, they dry very quickly.
- Can be permanently heat set for different applications.
- They absorb oil and grease, which is nearly impossible to clean after the oil-based stain sets.
- Because it is petroleum-based, it is highly flammable.
- Can be blended with almost any kind of fiber to create great fabrics.
- Can be dyed low cost and easily.
- Very resistant to wrinkling, stretching, and shrinking
- They can hold a static charge.
Where is Polyester Fabric Used?
Upholstery, home textiles, luggage, seat belts, conveyor belts, beddings, and any type of clothing imaginable but to give examples:
- Outdoor wear like coats and down jackets
- Rain jackets and waterproof boots
- And almost any kind of garments with blends like polycotton
Why to Use?
Polyester’s main selling points are versatility and affordability. Being one of the most popular fabrics ever, it is very versatile, both on its own and when mxed with other materials. It can be used as a substitute for cotton, silk, satin or can be mixed with them to create breathable, durable, and low cost fabrics. The other factor is affordability. Due to being manmade, it is low cost than most other fabrics.
There’s also the ease of manufacturing. Being a thermoplastic, it can be heat-set to have different features, which makes it indispensable for pleated items, especially in blended form. Lastly, there is technology. Polyesters are today significantly more advanced than the old harsh fabrics of the ‘60s. Manufacturers can make them incredibly soft and give them wicking characteristics. This makes them the top choice for sportswear.
How Much Does Polyester Fabric Cost?
Prices change every second. Different kinds have different prices. While fleece fabric may be more expensive than plain PET fabric, it is all about the properties and manufacturing processes involved that determine the price. But as a rule of thumb, PET polyester is usually the lower cost option and biodegradable types are more expensive.
There’s also recycled type, which is made from water bottles. While the usage of this material is still new, some big brands are using it because it is better for the environment. Prices of recycled polyester are a little more expensive than virgin polyester because the latter can be manufactured in bigger batches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why polyester fabric is good?
Depending on the use case, it can be a great fabric. Because it is very durable, low cost, versatile, and takes on any shape or form, polyester is a great fabric if you are a bigger manufacturer. For example, because polyester is very waterproof and durable, it is one of the main raw materials of outdoor wear.
What is the importance?
Polyester is very important because it brought clothing to the masses. Organic fabrics like wool, silk, and cotton can be very expensive. So, as a lower cost and more durable alternative, more manufacturers started to use 100% polyester or some kind of blend to keep the prices low and accessible to the general public.
How does it feel like?
It depends greatly on the manufacturing process and what kind of polyester it is. There are microfiber types like fleece and cleaning cloths that are incredibly soft and fluffy. But in its pure form polyester is coarser than other synthetic materials like nylon. Nowadays you can find the polyester fabric with just the right feeling to the touch with relative ease.