Updated on June 2, 2022 by Sarina

Polyester fabric is a smooth, strong and durable man-made synthetic fabric made from petroleum-based synthetic fibers of polyester which are composed of synthesized polymers (polyethylene terepthalates or PET). As a fabric with multiple uses in manufacturing, dressmaking, and home decor the reputation of polyester is stellar.

Unlike natural-fiber fabrics, polyester fabrics are very strong and durable. They are water-resistant and dries within no time. It is also wrinkle-free. Unlike wool, it does not shrink. It also doesnot wrinkle easily. But since they are hydrophobic or water-resistant, they do not absorb perspiration leaving the wearer with a moist, clammy feel. It also encourages bacterial growth and causes the clothing to smell very quickly which may not get removed with washing cycles. Despite its disadvantages, polyester is still popular in its original form as well as microfiber fabric or when as a blended fabric

Making of Polyester

Polyester is basically plastic in a fabric form. Polyester is derived from the words ‘Poly’ meaning many and Ester is the basic organic compound of polyester. Ethylene, a derivative of petroleum, is used in the manufacture of polyester.

The manufacturing process of polyester goes through different steps as given below


Polymerization

Polymerization is the process by which polyester is manufactured from the main ingredient of ethylene

An ester called dimethyl terephthalate is reacted with alcohol called ethylene glycol in the presence of a catalyst at a high temperature. The resulting monomer alcohol is combined with terephthalic acid at high temperatures. The polymerized material is extruded in the form of a long ribbon which is air-cooled. Once the ribbon hardens, it is cut into pellets.

Spinning

The pellets of polyester are thermoplastic which means they can be heated and remolded into different forms. The pellets are put into a reservoir and heated and melted to form a syrup-like solution. This solution is put into a container with small holes called spinnerets. The solution is extruded through spinnerets and cooled by air to produce continuous filaments or fibers. The size and shape of the spinnerets decide the diameter and shape of the fibers.

Drawing & winding

Fibers coming out of the spinnerets are soft. They are heat stretched up to five times their original length. This process decreases their width and increases the strength, tenacity, and resilience of the fiber. It will no longer be brittle. It is then wound onto cones or large bobbins ready to weave or crimped and cut into staple lengths to blend with other fibers.

Making of polyester yarns

There are two types of polyester yarns made from polyester fiber. They are called filament yarn and spun yarn. Filament yarns can be made by grouping the long polyester filaments and twisting them together to make one long monofilament yarn that is thick and strong. Spun yarns on the other hand are created by twisting the fibers like the way we spun cotton or wool. The long polyester fibers are cut into short pieces called staples and combined. And they are spun together to make up a yarn.

Making blends

Polyester can be combined with other fibers to make a variety of blends. The most popular blend might be that of cotton and polyester. Cotton makes the fabric more absorbing and comfortable whereas polyester makes it more stain and wrinkle-free.

Polyester is also blended with wool to make it more wrinkle-free and increase the durability of the fabric. Polyester and rayon are other popular blends where the combination gives it a different texture, makes it more absorbent, and a good drape. Similarly, polyester and nylon blend produces strong, durable, easy to launder, and resistant to mildew. But since both these fibers do not have absorbency, the fabric made of these blends is not ideal for warm and humid climates.

Related post : Does polyester shrink?; What is polyester?.; Textiles ; Fabric dictionary

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