Polyester: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

SEM picture of a bend in a high-surface area polyester fiber with a seven-lobed cross section
Close-up of a polyester shirt

Polyester is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyesters include naturally-occurring chemicals, such as in the cutin of plant cuticles, as well as synthetics through step-growth polymerization such as polycarbonate and polybutyrate. Natural polyesters and a few synthetic ones are biodegradable, but most synthetic polyesters are not.

Depending on the chemical structure polyester can be a thermoplastic or thermoset, however the most common polyesters are thermoplastics.[1]

Fabrics woven from polyester thread or yarn are used extensively in apparel and home furnishings, from shirts and pants to jackets and hats, bed sheets, blankets and upholstered furniture. Industrial polyester fibers, yarns and ropes are used in tyre reinforcements, fabrics for conveyor belts, safety belts, coated fabrics and plastic reinforcements with high-energy absorption. Polyester fiber is used as cushioning and insulating material in pillows, comforters and upholstery padding.

While synthetic clothing in general is perceived by some as having a less-natural feel compared to fabrics woven from natural fibres (such as cotton and wool), polyester fabrics can provide specific advantages over natural fabrics, such as improved wrinkle resistance. As a result, polyester fibres are sometimes spun together with natural fibres to produce a cloth with blended properties. Synthetic fibres also can create materials with superior water, wind and environmental resistance compared to plant-derived fibres.

Polyesters are also used to make "plastic" bottles, films, tarpaulin, canoes, liquid crystal displays, holograms, filters, dielectric film for capacitors, film insulation for wire and insulating tapes.

Liquid crystalline polyesters are among the first industrially-used liquid crystalline polymers. They are used for their mechanical properties and heat-resistance. These traits are also important in their application as an abradable seal in jet engines.

Polyesters are widely used as a finish on high-quality wood products such as guitars, pianos and vehicle / yacht interiors. Burns Guitars, Rolls Royce and Sunseeker are a few companies that use polyesters to finish their products. Thixotropic properties of spray-applicable polyesters make them ideal for use on open-grain timbers, as they can quickly fill wood grain, with a high-build film thickness per coat. Cured polyesters can be sanded and polished to a high-gloss, durable finish.



Polyesters as thermoplastics may change shape after the application of heat. While combustible at high temperatures, polyesters tend to shrink away from flames and self-extinguish upon ignition. Polyester fibres have high tenacity and E-modulus as well as low water absorption and minimal shrinkage in comparison with other industrial fibres.

Thermosetting polyesters are used as casting materials, and chemo setting polyester resins are used as fiberglass laminating resins and non-metallic auto-body fillers. Fibreglass-reinforced unsaturated polyesters find wide application in bodies of yachts and as body parts of cars.



Polyester is a synthetic polymer made of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) or its dimethyl ester dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and monoethylene glycol (MEG). With 18% market share of all plastic materials produced, it ranges third after polyethylene (33.5%) and polypropylene (19.5%).

The main raw materials are described as follows:

  • Purified Terephthalic Acid – PTA – CAS-No.: 100-21-0
Synonym: 1,4 Benzenedicarboxylic acid,
Sum formula; C6H4(COOH)2 , mol weight: 166,13
  • Dimethylterephthalate – DMT- CAS-No: 120-61-6
Synonym: 1,4 Benzenedicarboxylic acid dimethyl ester
Sum formula C6H4(COOCH3)2 , mol weight: 194,19
  • Mono Ethylene Glycol – MEG – CAS No.: 107-21-1
Synonym: 1,2 Ethanediol
Sum formula: C2H6O2 , mol weight: 62,07

More information about polyester raw materials can be found for PTA [2],DMT [3] and MEG [4], at the webpage INCHEM "Chemical Safety Information from Intergovernmental Organizations".

To make a polymer of high molecular weight a catalyst is needed. The most common catalyst is antimony trioxide (or antimony tri acetate):

Antimony trioxide – ATO – CAS-No.: 1309-64-4 Synonym: non, mol weight: 291,51 Sum formula: Sb2O3

In 2008 about 10 000 t Sb2O3 were used to produce around 49 Mio t polyethylene terephthalate.

Polyester is described as follows:

Polyethylene Terephthalate CAS-No.: 25038-59-9 Synonym / abbreviations: polyester, PET, PES Sum Formula: H-[C10H8O4]-n=60-120 OH, mol unit weight: 192,17

There are several reasons for the importance of Polyester:

  • The relatively easy accessible raw materials PTA or DMT and MEG
  • The very well understood and described simple chemical process of polyester synthesis
  • The low toxicity level of all raw materials and side products during polyester production and processing
  • The possibility to produce PET in a closed loop at low emissions to the environment
  • The outstanding mechanical and chemical properties of polyester
  • The recyclability
  • The wide variety of intermediate and final products made of polyester.

In table 1 the estimated world polyester production is shown. Main applications are textile polyester, bottle polyester resin, film polyester mainly for packaging and specialty polyesters for engineering plastics. According to this table, the world's total polyester production might exceed 50 million tons per annum before the year 2010.

Table 1: World polyester production

Market size per year
Product Type 2002 [Mio t/a] 2008 [Mio t/a]
Textile-PET 20 39
Resin, Bottle/A-PET 9 16
Film-PET 1.2 1.5
Special Polyester 1 2.5
TOTAL 31.2 49

Raw material producer

The raw materials PTA, DMT and MEG are mainly produced by large chemical companies which are sometimes integrated down to the crude oil refinery where P-Xylene is the base material to produce PTA and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is the base material to produce MEG.

Large PTA producers are for instance BP, Reliance, Sinopec, SK-Chemicals, Mitsui and Eastman Chemicals. MEG production is in the hand of about 10 global players which are headed by MEGlobal a JV of DOW and PIC Kuweit followed by Sabic.

Among the world's largest polyester producers are the following companies:

Artenius, Advansa, DAK, DuPont, Eastman/Voridian, Hyosung, Huvis, Indorama, Invista, Jiangsu Hengli Chemical Fiber, Jiangsu Sanfangxian Industry, M&G Group, Mitsui, Mitsubishi, NanYa Plastics, Reichhold, Reliance, Rongsheng, Sabic, Teijin, Toray, Trevira, Tuntex, Wellman, Yizheng Sinopec, Zhejiang Hengi Polymerization.

Polyester processing

After the first stage of polymer production in the melt phase, the product stream divides into two different application areas which are mainly textile applications and packaging applications. In figure 2 the main applications of textile and packaging polyester are listed.

Table 2: Textile and packaging polyester application list

Textile Packaging
Staple fiber (PSF) Bottles for CSD, Water, Beer, Juice, Detergents
Filaments POY, DTY, FDY A-PET Film
Technical yarn and tire cord Thermoforming
Non-woven and spunbond BO-PET Biaxial oriented Film
Mono-filament Strapping

Abbreviations: PSF = Polyester Staple Fiber; POY = Partially Oriented Yarn; DTY = Draw Textured Yarn; FDY = Fully Drawn Yarn; CSD = Carbonated Soft Drink; A-PET = Amorphous Polyester Film; BO-PET = Biaxial Oriented Polyester Film;

A comparable small market segment (<< 1 Million t/a) of polyester is used to produce engineering plastics and masterbatch.

In order to produce the polyester melt with a high efficiency, high-output processing steps like staple fiber (50–300 t/d per spinning line) or POY /FDY (up to 600 t/d split into about 10 spinning machines) are meanwhile more and more horizontal, integrated, direct processes. This means the polymer melt is directly converted into the textile fibers or filaments without the common step of pelletizing. We are talking about full horizontal integration when polyester is produced at one site starting from crude oil or distillation products in the chain oil -> benzene -> PX -> PTA -> PET melt -> fiber / filament or bottle-grade resin. Such integrated processes are meanwhile established in more or less interrupted processes at one production site. Eastman Chemicals introduced at first the idea to close the chain from PX to PET resin with their so-called INTEGREX process. The capacity of such horizontal, integrated productions sites is >1000 t/d and can easily reach 2500 t/d.

Besides the above mentioned large processing units to produce staple fiber or yarns, there are ten thousands of small and very small processing plants, so that one can estimate that polyester is processed and recycled in more than 10 000 plants around the globe. This is without counting all the companies involved in the supply industry, beginning with engineering and processing machines and ending with special additives, stabilizers and colors. This is a gigantic industry complex and it is still growing by 4–8% per annum, depending on the world region. Useful information about the polyester industry can be found under [5] where a “Who is Producing What in the Polyester Industry” is gradually being developed.


Synthesis of polyesters is generally achieved by a polycondensation reaction. See "condensation reactions in polymer chemistry". The General equation for the reaction of a diol with a diacid is : (n+1) R(OH)2 + n R´(COOH)2 ---> HO[ROOCR´COO]nROH + 2n H2O

Azeotrope esterification

In this classical method, an alcohol and a carboxylic acid react to form a carboxylic ester. To assemble a polymer, the water formed by the reaction must be continually removed by azeotrope distillation.

Alcoholic transesterification

           C - OCH3  +  OH[Oligomer2]
           C - O[Oligomer2]  + CH3OH
(ester-terminated oligomer + alcohol-terminated oligomer)   (larger oligomer + methanol)

Acylation (HCl method)

The acid begins as an acid chloride, and thus the polycondensation proceeds with emission of hydrochloric acid (HCl) instead of water. This method can be carried out in solution or as an enamel.

Silyl method
In this variant of the HCl method, the carboxylic acid chloride is converted with the trimethyl silyl ether of the alcohol component and production of trimethyl silyl chloride is obtained

Acetate method (esterification)

Silyl acetate method

Ring-opening polymerization

Aliphatic polyesters can be assembled from lactones under very mild conditions, catalyzed anionically, cationically or metallorganically.

Thermosetting resins are generally copolymers of unsaturated polyesters with styrene. Polyester saturation is governed through the use of maleic acid or fumaric acid. In vinyl esters, saturation (or lack thereof) is found in the alcohol group of the polyester. The double bond of unsaturated polyester reacts with styrene resulting in a 3-D cross-linked structure. This structure acts as a thermoset. The cross-linking is initiated through an exothermic reaction involving an organic peroxide, such as methyl ethyl ketone peroxide or benzoyl peroxide.

Health effects

A 1993 study found that polyester underwear reduced sperm count and sperm motility in male dogs.[6]



  • Textiles, by Sara Kadolph and Anna Langford. 8th Edition, 1998.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Polyester is a 1981 film about an unhappy housewife who struggles with her dysfunctional, unloving family.

Written and directed by John Waters.
Filmed in ODORAMAtaglines


Francine Fishpaw

  • Minicam?!
  • I wish I could be more like you, Cuddles, always optimistic. I look into my future and all I see is a long, dark highway, filled with endless tollbooths and no exits.
  • Oh, everything smells so much better now.


  • This house is just like Architectural Digest, Francine!
  • Oh Heintz, she's straight from the gutter!
  • At first I thought he was walking the dog. Then I realized it was his date.
  • [after ripping a garment trying to squeeze into it] God damn these designers.
  • God Francine, you're the most drinkinest gal I've ever seen!
  • I got ants in my pants!


Dr. Quackenshaw: Through this nose, come some of life's most rewarding sensations, and we plan to share with you some of the most beautiful odors known to mankind. Unfortunately, this same nose is also responsible for bringing us some odors that are rather... repulsive. We have not shied away from this distressing fact. You may experience some odors that will shock you! But the producers of this film believe that today's audiences are mature enough to accept the fact that some things in life just plain stink!
Protester: You bought this house with the profits of porno!
Sister: [after getting hit in a drive-by brooming] White honkey! You crazy cracka! What's wrong with these children of today? Don't he know he just hit one of the sisters of the church! I'm sick and tired of what these children are doing! [hijacks a bus]
Footstomper Victim: Some people think this is funny, but I have three broken toes to show for it!
Francine's Mother: Good Lord Francine, don't you know it's bad luck to let retarded people in your home?
Principal: It is the opinion of the entire staff that Dexter is criminally insane and a hazard to the safety of the other students.
Sandra Sullivan: See these rings? Guess who bought them for me! if you want you can look at my clothes. They're the finest of polyester and I didn't pay for them!
Footstomper Witness: I seen it, man, I seen this weird lookin' dude run right out and stomp on this honkey lady's feet!
Elmer: [while driving around, speaking into a loudspeaker] Francine Fishpaw lives at 538 Wyman Way. She weighs 300 pounds and is an alcoholic! She eats an entire cake in one sitting. You should see her stretchmarks. Because of her drunkenness, both of her children are delinquents! She's the hairiest woman I've ever laid eyes on! [laughs maniacally]
Nun: Prostitutes and devils' witches lose their babies! PRAY with us, girls!
Lulu: I never wanted to use macramé to kill!


Protester: Our children are going to hell becuase of your theater, what do you have to say to them!?
Elmer: Children under 12 are a dollar fifty!

Francine: Where did you get that outfit?
Lulu: [while gyrating wildly] I borrowed it! Do you like it?
Francine: That's a new garment, Lulu. I can smell it! Have you been shoplifting again?
Lulu: I bought it with money I saved!
Francine: What money? You don't have a job.
Lulu: Boys at scool give me money.
Francine: For what?
Lulu: For dancing at lunch period!
Francine: You dance lewdly for the boys at lunch period?
Lulu: For a quarter I will!

Francine's Mother: [walks in on Francine on the toilet] Can't you do that later? I don't have all day you know! I'm missing valuable shopping time!
Francine: Mother, please, I'll be out in a second.
Francine's Mother: I don't know why you bother, you've always retained your fluids!

Sandra: Elmer, I have something to show you! Yes sir-ee, oral contraceptives! They'll suppress my ovulation through hormones!
Elmer: I got something for you, Sandra! I got condoms! Red hot prophylactics, black, your favorite color!

Francine: Lulu, you have failed every single subject again!
Lulu: Oh no Mom, they changed the grading system! F is for Fantastic!
Francine: You little liar. It's a good thing you're not Pinocchio, your nose would be a mile long!

Lulu: I need money for a cab. Have you forgotten today's the day for my abortion?
Francine: Lulu, there's a living thing inside of you. Oh Lulu, have the baby. We'll raise it together, We'll get a little bassinet and some Pampers. Oh Lulu, that baby is part of you!
Lulu: It's stealing part of me, you mean! I can feel it like cancer, getting bigger and bigger like the blob! One day it'll rip me open, and it'll be there in my life, ready to rob me of every bit of fun I deserve to have!

Francine: I really don't know what to say.
AA meeting crowd: SAY IT! SAY IT! SAY IT!
Francine: My name is Francine Fishpaw...
AA meeting crowd: AND? AND? AND?
Francine: And I am an alcoholic!

Protester: Don't have this abortion!
Protester: How does it feel to be a murderer?!
Protester: Killer! Murderer!
Protester: Babies want to live too you know!
Protester: Suppose Einstein's mother had an abortion!
Protester: Or John F. Kennedy's, huh?!
Protester: What if Mary and Joseph had had an abortion, what then!?
Protester: [slaps Lulu] That's from Jesus! That's what he would do, you murderer!


  • Filmed in ODORAMA
  • It'll Blow Your Nose!
  • Smelling is believing.
  • It's Scentsational!


External links

Wikipedia has an article about:


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also polyester


German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de



  1. polyester

Simple English

Polyester is a type of material of which clothes are made. It can also be used to stuff pillows and make wood filling.It is not a raw material

It is also a great insulator. It can be used as curtains to insulate heat coming out of windows. You can use polyester to insulate windows and as a carpet ( so you will not feel cold anymore when you touch the ground).

The most popular use of polyester, is polyester suits.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address