The mid-20th and early 21stcentury has witnessed a surge of synthetic fibres in the textile industry. As per a study the synthetic market is expected to increase at 5.3% CAGR from 2017 to 2025 . Lion’s share of the synthetic market is dominated by Polyester. Demand for cheap, affordable and fashionable clothes with fast changing fashion has contributed to the growth of this fibre. From sustainability point of view the fibre is not very sustainable, it consumes 125 MJ of energy per kg, also emitting 27.2 kg of CO2 per kg for production [2,3]; hence recyclable polyester is currently preferred. In spite of several sustainability concerns, the characteristics and features of this crude oil based fibre, makes it an important fibre for technical sector besides clothing sector.
- Applications in Technical Sector
Polyester is among the very few fibres that has applications in all 12 classes of technical textiles. The different applications of polyester in the technical textile sector are mentioned.
|Whether Polyester is used in the sector||Agro tech||Medi tech||Mobi tech||Pack tech||Sport tech||Build tech||Cloth tech||Home tech||Pro tech||Geo tech||Oeko tech||Indi tech|
In agrotextiles, polyester is among the most used synthetic fibre after polypropylene and polyamides. It is used as sunscreen, greenhouses, insect meshes, mulch mats, and fruit covers . Its superior UV resistance, physical characteristics than polypropylene ; better weather resistance, lighter weight, UV resistance compared to polyamides, makes it a very useful fibre in agrotextile.
Properties like high modulus, good creep, fair resistance to acids and alkali, good chemical resistance, hydrophobicity and biocompatibility to a certain extent makes it a fibre to be used in the medical field. It can be used both as an implantable, as well as non-implantable material.
As implantable material, different polyester structures can be used as artificial tendon, artificial ligaments, even as extracorporeal devices like artificial kidney, etc. However for such applications protein fibres are more preferred; since it is more biocompatible and the property of polyester degrades with time. Hence it is not good for long time implantable application .
As non-implantable material, it can be used as bandages, since it has good resistance to micro-organisms. It is also used for production of baby and adult diapers. Due to its hydrophobic nature nonwoven made from polyester can hold liquid also its good dimensional stability contributing in maintaining its shape, and good wicking property it can easily transfer liquid evenly .
Polyester is one of the predominant fibres used for the Mobitech applications. Properties like UV resistance, good strength properties, good compression recovery, good heat resistance and low inflammability makes it a very useful fibre for Mobitech applications. It can be used in seat covers, carpets and seat belts  even its composites and its nonwovens are used for mobitech applications .
Packaging is one of the most important applications of technical textile. Characteristics like excellent dimensional stability, UV resistance, good chemical resistance, weather resistance, hydrophobicity, proper tensile and initial modulus, can be used to manufacture non wovens, makes polyester a commonly used fibre for this application. It can be used for any kind of packing applications, PET water bottles are still used, and Tea bags are commonly made from non-woven polyesters (Polypropylene is preferred for this application since it is inert in room temperature), even various companies uses Polyester for packaging materials for shipping.
Polyester is one of the preferred fibres for sporttech applications. Polyester has excellent dimensional stability, good wicking effect, good soil release property, excellent heat and thermal stability, UV resistance, light weight hydrophobicity. Polyester is mostly used for high sport applications, where a lot of sweat is generated; the sweat is transferred through the capillaries by wicking effect and due to hydrophobicity it dries up quickly. Hence it can be used in different wearables for athletes .
Polyester in Buildtech applications are generally used as composites to support the construction. Due to its Hydrophobicity, UV resistance, sound insulation properties it can be used along with the building applications .
The application of Polyester in the clothing industry is well known, it is used for different suiting and shirting applications. Polyester is very compatible with different fibres for forming blends, Poly-cotton, Poly-wool, Poly-viscose and many other blends are very much used in the industry. Core sheath, ply structure is used for different applications like sewing threads, shoe laces.
Polyester is also a preferred material for many Hometexile applications. Soil release, good resistance to micro-organisms, fairly resistance to acids and alkalis, good drapability characteristics makes it ideal for bed sheets, pillow covers and similar applications. Good UV resistance, sound absorption characters can be used for producing curtains (Hollow polyesters however produce better sound insulation . It is also used as a filtration material in air ducts.
Water proof polyester is used for Outdoor Porch Curtains, Tents, Tarpaulins, etc. UV resistance, good dimensional stability, good busting strength properties also contribute for these applications
In 2020, mask has been one of the most used words. Nonwoven filters of masks are produced from Polyester and Polypropylene. SMS and SMMS fabrics are generally used for this application, even the fact polyester has negative triboelectric charges contributes to the filtration process .
Due to fair chemical resistance, UV resistance polyester can be used for various protective applications. During the pandemic several PPEs were made of polyester and polyester blends, however for such application polypropylene should be preferred due to its inert nature in room temperature.
Good tensile and busting strength, chemical resistance, UV resistance, creep properties makes it a very useful geotextile fibre. It is used for reinforcement applications like soil reinforcements, embankments , tidal barrages, prevention of soil erosion, etc. Geo grid structures, non-woven structures can be used for separation, filtration and drainage applications of geotextile like separation of two soil layers, draining of water using wicking .
Non-woven Polyester structures can be used for filtration of dusts, air filtration, etc. Different polyester structures can also be used for prevention of soil erosion.
Polyester is used for different industrial textile application for instance Bolting cloth, a mesh fabric primarily used for screen printing; Coated abrasive clothing, Decatising cloth are some of its other applications . In certain cases it is also used in conveyor belts due to its high strength, creep properties, but Nylon is preferred for such applications.
Summary of different characteristics of polyester for application in particular technical textile field
|Characteristics of Polyester|
|Agrotech||UV Protection, Chemically unreactive, light weight, protection from insects, busting strength, dimensional stability (for greenhouse structures).|
|Meditech||High modulus, good creep, fair resistance to acids and alkali, good chemical resistance, hydrophobicity, dimensional stability.|
|Mobitech||UV resistance, good strength properties, good compression recovery, good heat resistance and low inflammability, sound insulation, nonwovens used for air filters.|
|Packtech||Excellent dimensional stability, good strength properties, UV resistance, good chemical resistance, weather resistance, hydrophobicity, water repellent is necessary for several products, Non-wovens used for tea bags.|
|Sporttech||Excellent dimensional stability, good wicking effect, good soil release property, excellent heat and thermal stability, UV resistance, light weight, hydrophobicity.|
|Buildtech||Hydrophobicity, UV resistance, sound insulation, good strength, low cost.|
|Clothtech||Lower cost , UV protection, wicking property.|
|Hometech||Soil release, good resistance to micro-organisms, fairly resistance to acids and alkalis, good UV resistance, sound absorption, good drapability, water proof polyester is also used|
|Protech||Resistance from nuclear radiation, good chemical resistance, UV resistance polyester, good filtration as SMS, SMMS fabrics.|
|Geotech||Good tensile and busting strength, chemical resistance, UV resistance, creep properties, good filtration and drainage by different structures.|
|Oekotech||Good air, dust filtration. Can prevent soil erosion.|
|Indutech||High strength, creep properties, good filtration properties, sun screen protection, screen of screen printing also made from polyester.|
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Mallika Datta for in this article.The various concepts used in this article were provided by her during the classes of TT704A.
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INDUTECH. Indian Technical Textile Association. https://ittaindia.org/?q=industrial-textiles-
-Department of Textile Technology, Government College of Engineering and Textile Technology, Serampore