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What Is Polyester?

Polyester is a synthetic material made from synthesized polymers. It is actually constructed from polyethylene terephthalate (PET)—interestingly, the same active ingredient in plastic drinking bottles. In fact, these bottles are often recycled and reprocessed into polyester fibers.

Polyester was introduced in the early 1940s and was marketed as a fabric in the 1950s. It quickly grew in popularity, mainly because it was quite strong and could easily be used for a number of styles and products. For example, polyester is often used to make clothes, quilt batting, and car and furniture upholstery. However, its drawbacks included being highly flammable, and more irritating to the skin than pure cotton and other natural fabrics. That is why some clothing manufacturers combine polyester with other materials to minimize irritation. Polyester fabric blends also tend to have a more “stretchy” texture, versus pure polyester which is slippery and silky.

Aside from being used as a fabric, companies like Dupont have developed other applications for polyester. For example, it is used to make mylar and polyester films, as well as floppy disk liners. This is very good for the environment because the material is non-bio degradable; it also helps the companies lower the costs of the product, and offer them at cheaper prices to the consumer.

Polyester is made by combining ethylene glycol and dimethyl terephthalate to create bisterephthalate. This is subjected to high temperatures of up to 270° Fahrenheit (or 132° Celsius)to form polyethylene terephthalate. During this process toxic gasses are emitted, which is why factory workers need to wear protective clothing.

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