The history of polyester begins at the end of the crazy ‘20s of the last century.
Around 1926, an American company called DuPont decided to open an investigation into the development of new synthetic fibers.
The company began looking for new types of fibers that could replace the natural fibers that existed until then, as was the case with cotton fiber.
At the time, this research team was led by a chemist named Wallace H. Carothers. His research would later bear fruit but in the form of Nylon – one of the first synthetic fibers discovered and produced by human hands.
It is on top of these first investigations that two British scientists also begin their own research. Based on the same studies and the results previously obtained, polyester with commercial usage was finally discovered in 1941.
First, it is noticed in military use, namely in the manufacture of parachutes and other types of military accessories, during World War II.
A few years later, in 1946, the same DuPont company buys the polyester production rights in the United States of America.
This company then began to commercialize and mass produce polyester. Reinforced by the economic boom of the post-World War II period, it flooded the market in large quantities.
During the years that followed, several companies devoted their attention to polyester.
They developed new shapes and new products for the most diverse uses and provided fundamental help for the new synthetic fiber to expand.
Today, polyester is one of the most used materials in the textile industry market. This is a synthetic fiber that is highly resistant to water and weather effects, although it is also one of the most susceptible to both fire and heat.
Polyester material is a synthetic fiber, derived from petroleum. Its main element is ethylene, and its production process involves the use of a chemical process called polymerization, which produces a reaction between an acid and alcohol.
In this reaction, smaller molecules combine to form a larger molecule, whose structure repeats itself along the entire length of the polyester fiber, uniting it, and keeping it uniform throughout the material.
Thus, polyester fibers are homogeneous. Its length can vary but, normally, they are long and solid, stable, and very strong, without containing any kind of empty spaces between them – making the material an excellent thermal insulator.
The use of polyester to create circular knitted fabrics can be made 100% with this material. Or it can be mixed with another type of fiber, such as cotton, a natural fiber.
This is one of the most common situations. It is rare to find pieces designed exclusively from this synthetic fiber.
When two types of fibers are mixed to create new circular knitted fabrics, they complement each other and the qualities of both come to the fore.
For example, when mixed with cotton fiber, polyester improves the resistance of the articles produced and reinforces them with its thermal insulation properties. At the same time, this fiber is used to fill in any weaker marks of cotton, such as shrinkage resistance.
Furthermore, production of this fiber allows circular knitted fabrics to be dyed very easily. For this purpose, special paints with an equally complex molecular structure are used. These are called dispersion paints.
The main chemical element used in creating polyester is ethylene, a petroleum derivative.
During the chemical polymerization process, ethylene acts as the building block. The remaining elements that make up the fiber bind together to this block, giving rise to the synthetic fiber.
This fiber is usually obtained after mixing monoethylene glycol with terephthalic acid, in varying amounts. So, its final composition will vary according to the processes of each producer.
However, there are two types of polyester most used:
Of these, the best known is PET (polyethylene terephthalate). It is used in a wide range of industries, including the textile industry for the production of very resistant and insulating garments.
Polyester is one of the most used synthetic fibers in the textile industry. Its uses allow the creation of very resistant and easy to care pieces.
In fact, polyester is so used that today it is rare to find any article in which its presence is not visible.
Its strengths are as valid today as they were nearly 80 years ago when it was first discovered.
Even so, technological advances have been improving its production processes, as well as its main characteristics, from touch to shape – especially when mixed with other fibers.
Polyester is of great resistance to the abrasive effects of weather conditions. It is an essential fiber for everyday life, only available at ITJV through catalogue request and sample validation.
This text was written and published in 2021