Federal Trade Commission Definition for Polyester Fiber: A manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is any long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of an ester of a substituted aromatic carboxylic acid, including but not restricted to substituted terephthalic units, p(-R-O-CO- C6H4-CO-O-)x and parasubstituted hydroxy-benzoate units, p(-R-O-CO-C6H4-O-)x. (Complete FTC Fiber Rules here.)
Basic Principles of Polyester Fiber Production — The most common polyester for fiber purposes is poly (ethylene terephthalate), or simply PET. This is also the polymer used for many soft drink bottles and it is becoming increasingly common to recycle them after use by remelting the PET and extruding it as fiber. This saves valuable petroleum raw materials, reduces energy consumption, and eliminates solid waste sent to landfills.
PET is made by reacting ethylene glycol with either terephthalic acid or its methyl ester in the presence of an antimony catalyst. The reaction is carried out at high temperature and vacuum to achieve the high molecular weights need to form useful fibers. PET is melt spun. For a detailed production flowchart, go here.
Polyester Fiber Characteristics
- Resistant to stretching and shrinking
- Resistant to most chemicals
- Quick drying
- Crisp and resilient when wet or dry
- Wrinkle resistant
- Mildew resistant
- Abrasion resistant
- Retains heat-set pleats and crease
- Easily washed
Some Major Polyester Fiber Uses
· Apparel: Every form of clothing
· Home Furnishings: Carpets, curtains, draperies, sheets and pillow cases, wall coverings, and upholstery
· Other Uses: hoses, power belting, ropes and nets, thread, tire cord, auto upholstery, sails, floppy disk liners, and fiberfill for various products including pillows and furniture
General Polyester Fiber Care Tips
- Most items made from polyester can be machine washed and dried. Use warm water and add a fabric softener to the final rinse cycle. Machine dry at a low temperature and remove articles as soon as the tumbling cycle is completed.
- If ironing is desired, use a moderately warm iron.
- Most items made from polyester can be dry-cleaned. (For specific instructions, refer to garment's sewn-in care label.)