Every item that we use daily is composed of many different types of materials. From naturally existing metals and cotton to human-made alloys and fabrics, we use various kinds of materials without knowing their composition.
Polyester is an example of human-made, synthetic materials that are used widely all over the world. From lavish garments to stylish curtains, this synthetic material has found its way into a number of manufacturing industries. But what is this material? And where does it come from? If synthetic, how was it first made? Polyester has not only commendable uses in multiple industries but also a fascinating history that not a lot of us are aware of.
Let us take you on an informative ride through this article that will tell you about the facts and history of polyester like you’ve never known before.
The Source of Polyester
Polyester itself is a synthetic material. But that doesn’t mean it’s all artificial. In fact, it is produced from natural sources like air, coal, and petroleum. When the crude reaction is started, a variety of different materials are obtained, and polyester is one of them.
It is formed after a chemical reaction between raw materials that include alcohol and acid. The molecules of these two reactants combine in a linear complex chain, known as polyester.
It is tough in nature, as it is produced as a result of chemical bonding. The strength that these bonds provide makes it the thread that is, known for its toughness and resilience.
The Invention of Polyester Thread
The polyester thread was introduced in 1955. A worker named Carothers somehow figured out that a chemical reaction between carboxylic acid and alcohol is possible. When this reaction was closely followed, it produced fibers, which were later named as polyester fibers.
When it was introduced in the market, it outshined the rest and caught attention for its stretch and toughness. It lacked the quality of a cotton thread, but its low price was a tradeoff. The polyester thread was a cheap alternative to silk and cotton and required minimum effort to produce.
The industrialists tried this thread and found it amazing. Since then, it has been a significant part of the textile and fabric sector.
The Manufacturing of Thread
The first process of making the polyester thread is to extract the raw materials. A chemical process called crackling reaction is performed on petroleum to extract the required materials from it. During this process, a hydrocarbon named xylene is produced.
To xylene, glycol and nitric acid are added to initiate a chemical reaction that modifies the structure of this compound. After that, it is run through an autoclave. As a result of which, long chains of polyester are produced.
These chains require further modifications. That is why they are cut in the shape of chips and taken into a laboratory for the remaining process, where these chips are then arranged in long filaments called polyester tow.
Each tow has about 170 thousand polyester fibers. They are stretched so that weak fibers can get exposed which are then removed and discarded.
The remaining strong fibers are run through machines for over 20 times to produce fine threads. The end product is then taken for quality control to ensure proper manufacturing. After this, it is packaged and distributed in the market.
Why did it Get Famous?
We all know how famous polyester is. Not in any one industry, but many of them. So, how exactly did it get to be as famous as it is today? A big part of this fame comes from good timing. This synthetic material was simply launched at the right time – a time when people needed it the most.
Polyester was introduced when the industry was falling apart. The economic status of the textile sector was in a downfall. The raw materials to produce garments were expensive, and the revenue wasn’t worth it.
At that time, silk and linen threads were used by the companies. And we all know that these two are no cheap materials. Not only were these expensive, but they also required a lot of maintenance. In such conditions, polyester proved to be a cheap alternative.
Given all the qualities it had to offer for the people, it became their fast favorite. People got impressed by its longevity. They could wear it multiple times without any maintenance. It didn’t need ironing, and it would tolerate all sorts of harshness. Polyester was truly a long-lasting material that changed the industry completely.
Advantages of Polyester Thread
Following are some of the major benefits of polyester thread.
A polyester thread is highly tough, and its molecules are packed very tightly. When it is treated with bleach, it does not budge at all. You can wash it in any condition, and it will come out just as fine as new. This makes it useful for children’s garments, especially.
Most of the time, children’s clothes get quite dirty and require harsh cleaning agents. For this purpose, polyester proves to work magnificently. It can bear all kinds of strong detergents and maintain the quality of your clothes. This way, you get the maximum use of it.
The material of polyester is flexible. It can get back to its original shape even after severe crumbling. It does not need constant ironing. You can wear it for several days straight, and it will still be presentable.
Due to this nature of polyester, it is heavily used in the homeware industry. Curtains and tablecloths are a pain to steam and maintain. Therefore, polyester is preferred for such purposes.
Polyester is a synthetic material. Unlike cotton and linen that catches fire when exposed to an open flame, polyester melts. This increases the durability of the clothes. Moreover, it makes it preferable for use in children and commercial garments.
Polyester threads have impeccable stretch, which makes them suitable to be used for one-size-fits-all garments. This ability also helps for the children’s garments. Kids of growing age change size fairly quickly. This is why polyester is preferred for their clothes so that the consumer can get maximum use out of them.
The polyester thread is a cheap alternative to other expensive ones. It is easy to produce and use. People prefer it for commercial use more than anything else. It requires little to no maintenance and provides a decent quality without breaking the bank.
Types of Polyester Thread
There are several types of polyester threads. Some of them are mentioned below.
As the name suggests, this thread is produced by twisting the fibers around a core polyester filament. Also known as poly core thread, it is very strong and used to stitch materials like denim.
It is quite tough and requires special machines for use. This thread gives a smooth stitch without breaking apart after some time.
This type of polyester thread has some special benefits. It looks like a silk thread but possesses the qualities of polyester. It is produced by multiple filaments that are twisted around to give one long and continuous thread.
The fibers are arranged in a triangular form that reflects light from all angles. This gives it the sheen like a silk thread and adds an element of sparkle to the regular solid colored threads.
This one resembles a cotton thread. It is produced by spinning small polyester fibers in a machine. They are spun until the desired shape of a thread is achieved. The final product looks similar to the cotton thread but is more elastic in nature.
Spun polyester is used for ordinary sewing purposes. It is not the best option for quilting, but for household use, it is fine. If you have a stitching kit at your home, the chances are that you already have a spun polyester thread in it.
It possesses the same qualities as a cotton thread, but in a budget. This thread is ideal for garment stitching as it can easily run through a machine without damaging any of its important parts.
A bonded polyester thread is used for sewing hard materials like leather. It is produced by applying a coating of resin over the polyester threads, which makes it UV-resistant and provides toughness.
This thread is optimum for the stitching of furniture that is exposed to sunlight. For example, patio furniture. Bonded polyester is highly durable. It can withstand the harsh uses efficiently and is very strong compared to regular threads available in the market.
It is fascinating how something as small as a thread can have so much of history and uses. And that is exactly what makes polyester unique in itself. From its softness to resilience, this simple thread is one of the best materials that humans have synthesized.
We have figured out a number of uses for polyester. Given its versatile properties, it won’t be long before we figure out more uses from this amazing synthetic material.