What is Polyester – Manufacturing of Polyester
The process of manufacturing polyester is fascinating. It is an artificial man-made fiber. Polyesters are generally manufactured from petroleum from which the constituent acids and alcohols are derived.
There are three steps in the synthesizing of polyester.
- Condensation Polymerization: When acid and alcohol are reacted in a vacuum at high temperatures it results in condensation polymerization. Once the polymerization has occurred the material is extruded onto a casting trough in the form of a ribbon. Once cool, the ribbon hardens and is cut into chips.
- Melt-spun Fiber: The chips are dried completely. Hopper reservoirs are then used to melt the chips. A unique feature of polyester is that it is melt-spun fiber. The chips are heated, extruded through spinnerets and cools upon hitting the air. It is then loosely wound around cylinders.
- Drawing: The fibers consequently formed are hot stretched to about five times their original length. This helps to reduce the fiber width. This fiber is now ready and would into cones as filaments. It can also be crimped and cut into staple lengths as per requirements.
Different Types Of Polyester
There are several processes that can be carried out on the base polyester fiber. These processes add dimension to the polyester fiber as required for various end uses.
Polyester is a bright fiber by nature. However, it can be made dull or semi-dull by adding a delusterant. By changing the shape of the spinneret also, the hand and the strength of the fiber can be changed. Most spinnerets are circular. However, square, oval and bean-shaped fibers are also produced sometimes. Hollow fibers can also be created.
Polyester fiber is generally drawn to about five times its original length. However, drawing it out further makes it thinner. This is how the latest microfibers are being manufactured. Dyeing can give desired colors of polyester fiber. Normal polyester fiber is long and smooth. Crimping it can give the fiber more bulk and texture and increase its insulation capabilities.
Characteristics of Polyester
- Polyester fabrics and fibers are extremely strong.
- Polyester is very durable: resistant to most chemicals, stretching and shrinking, wrinkle resistant, mildew and abrasion resistant.
- Polyester is hydrophobic in nature and quick drying. It can be used for insulation by manufacturing hollow fibers.
- Polyester retains its shape and hence is good for making outdoor clothing for harsh climates.
- It is easily washed and dried.
History of Polyester
It was W.H.Carothers who discovered that alcohols and carboxyl acids could be successfully mixed to create fibers. It was British scientists – Whinfield and Dickson who patented PET or PETE in 1941.
Later that year, the first polyester fiber – Terylene – was created by Whinfield and Dickson along with Birtwhistle and Ritchiethey. Terylene was first manufactured by Imperial Chemical Industries or ICI.
It was in 1946 that duPont bought all legal rights from ICI. In 1950, the Dealware property of duPont manufactured another polyester fiber, which they named Dacron. Mylar was introduced in 1952. Polyester was first introduced to the American public in 1951 as the magical fabric that needed no ironing!
Uses of Polyester
Once the polyester fiber is ready it is used to make filament and spun yarns. The yarns can be blended with other fibers to make various blended fabrics. Polyester and cotton are a popular combination. Wool and rayon are also blended with polyester to make fabrics.
The most popular and one of the earliest uses of polyester was to make polyester suits – all the rage in the 70s. Polyester clothes were very popular. Due to its strength and tenacity polyester was also used to make ropes in industries. PET bottles are today one of the most popular uses of polyester.
Polyester care tips
Taking care of polyester clothing is really easy and very time efficient.
- Polyester clothing can be machine washed and dried. Adding a fabric softener generally helps. Dry the fabric at low temperatures to get maximum usage from the clothing.
- Though polyester does not require much ironing, if you must, then iron warm.
- Polyester can be dry-cleaned with no hassles.