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Polyester stable fiber. Image Credit: RecycleMan/Shutterstock.com

9 Uses of Polyester and Their Differences

Learn about the various uses of this important polymer.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
August 8, 2022
 6 min read
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Polyester is one of the most widely used polymers. It is extensively utilized in fabric form, specifically in clothing and industrial textiles. This article will describe 9 common uses of polyester – as summarized in the table below – and give reasons why polyester is particularly useful in these different applications. 

Uses of PolyesterDescription
Uses of Polyester

Clothing

Description

Polyester fabric has properties that make it ideal for use as clothing as it is both breathable and stain-resistant.

Uses of Polyester

Home Furnishings

Description

Polyester’s stain resistance makes it an excellent material for furniture coverings.

Uses of Polyester

Tires

Description

Polyester is used as a reinforcing material, placed in strategic positions throughout the tire. 

Uses of Polyester

Conveyor Belts

Description

Polyester is used in reinforcing carcasses throughout the conveyor belt due to its durability and tensile strength.

Uses of Polyester

Safety Belts

Description

Polyester has excellent tensile strength, especially when woven into a dense textile.

Uses of Polyester

Padding Upholstery, Cushioning, and Insulating Gloves & Mitts

Description

Polyester is used as a batting material for cushions and upholstery as it tends to retain its volume and shape even after being compressed multiple times.

Uses of Polyester

Bottles

Description

Polyester is used for disposable plastic bottles due to its resistance to microorganisms and does not degrade biologically.

Uses of Polyester

Sports Gear, Sportswear, Upholstery, Covers, and Table Cloths.

Description

Polyester is used in manufacturing products often utilized outdoors due to its durability and stain resistance.

Uses of Polyester

Sprays

Description

Polyester is used in a number of spray coating applications due to its good performance and lower cost compared to epoxy coatings.

Table 1: Polyester Uses Summary

The image below shows some common polyester products:

Slide 1 of 1
common polyester products
common polyester products
common polyester products

Polyester fiber synthetic fabrics.

Image Credit: Natali Ximich/Shutterstock.com

1. Used in the Production of Clothing

The most common application of polyester is in fabrics. Polyester fabric has properties that make it ideal for use as clothing as it is both breathable and stain-resistant. Polyester is typically blended with other natural fabrics to increase comfort and reduce the amount of creasing that is common with polyester. Polyester fabric is one of the most widely used textiles on the planet. This is partly due to its low cost and high durability. Fabrics made from polyester will melt when exposed to an open flame and can cause serious injury. Polyester fabrics are not typically recycled due to the addition of other materials like cotton which are difficult to separate from polyester.

2. Used for Home Furnishings

Polyester textiles are used in home furnishing applications. Its stain resistance is what makes polyester such an excellent material for furniture coverings. Polyester can also be tinted with a wide array of colors. The material is also lightweight. This property is especially important for items like curtains which can be difficult to install if made from heavy fabrics. 

3. Manufacturing of Tires

Tire manufacturing is another common use for polyester fiber. Tires are produced from a range of different materials; polyester is placed in strategic positions throughout the tire as a reinforcing material. Polyester reinforcing fabrics improve strength, durability, handling, and many other performance-critical criteria. When compared to other common reinforcing fabrics like nylon, polyester has improved dimensional stability, lower shrinkage, and better high-speed performance. 

4. Applied to Conveyor Belts

Conveyor belts are often manufactured with reinforcing polyester carcasses throughout the belt. Increasing the number of textile carcasses will improve the overall tensile strength and stiffness of the belt. These textiles are often made from polyester and significantly improve the performance of the belt. Mechanically splicing belts using fasteners is easier in belts with polyester reinforcement textiles. This reinforcement helps retain the fasteners so that they do not tear out when the belt is under load. Adding a textile cover to the top or bottom of the belt can also reduce overall sliding friction.

5. Production of Safety Belts

One of the most important uses of polyester is in car seat belts made from polyester textiles. Polyester has excellent tensile strength, especially when woven into a dense fabric, making it ideal for seat belts. In addition to this, polyester does not stretch easily which is critical in ensuring the safety of vehicle occupants. Polyester is very durable, which helps ensure passenger safety. Any damage occurring to the safety belt would present a potential failure point when the belt is used. 

6. Used for Padding Upholstery, Cushioning, and Insulating Gloves & Mitts

Polyester is often used as a batting material for cushions and upholstery. The material tends to retain its volume and shape even after being compressed multiple times. Polyester batting is also resistant to mold and mildew while also being an excellent insulator. These insulation properties make polyester ideal for applications like oven gloves and mitts. Polyester tends to melt if exposed to direct flames. It is often placed between cotton layers to preserve the polyester even if the mitts come into contact with high temperatures.

7. Used in the Making of Bottles

The disposable plastic bottle is one of the most common uses of polyester. Polyester is resistant to microorganisms and does not degrade biologically. In general, polyester is a very durable material, making it ideal for plastic bottles. Plastic bottles made with polyester are manufactured using the blow-molding technique. At the end of their lifetime, polyester bottles are often recycled into polyester fabrics.

8. Used in Manufacturing Sports Gear, Sportswear, Upholstery, Covers, and Table Cloths

Polyester is a very durable material, especially when exposed to an outdoor environment, and does not stain easily. These properties make it ideal for sportswear and equipment. Polyester does not absorb moisture, so it is an ideal material to use when exercising. These same properties make polyester ideal for upholstery and table cloths.

9. Used in Manufacturing Sprays

Polyester is used in a number of spray coating applications. Sprays made with polyester have lower performance in terms of durability and chemical resistance when compared to epoxy paint. However, polyester coatings provide improved performance over polyurethane coatings. Polyester paint is made from a three-component system that consists of a resin, a catalyst, and an accelerant. Polyester paints are typically used for varnishing furniture and have excellent scratch resistance and general toughness.

What Are the Different Types of Polyester That Can Be Used?

There are four common types of polyester, with PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) being by far the most commonly used. The different types of polyesters are listed below:

  • PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): This is the most commonly used grade of polyester and is known by the following trade names: Mylar, Rynite, and Impet
  • PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate): When compared to PET, PBT has a lower melting temperature
  • PEN (Polyethylene Naphthalate): PEN is used in packaging applications as oxygen does not easily permeate through the packaging
  • PTT (Polytrimethylene Terephthalate): Has good stain resistance and durability – as such it is typically used in the textile industry

Which Type of Polyester Has a Wide Range of Applications?

Polyester finds the most use as a fabric or textile. This application includes fishing nets, carpets, ropes, clothing, sportswear, and air filters. Polyester accounts for over half the total fiber use globally. 

Where Is Polyester Most Commonly Used?

Due to the prevalence of polyester fabric, polyester is used almost everywhere that fabrics are utilized. This means the consumer, via industries such as clothing, automobiles, and medicine, makes heavy use of polyesters.

Who Is the Most Common User of Polyester?

The largest consumer of polyester fibers is China. This is no surprise as China also leads in terms of global polyester production. The Asia Pacific region is set to account for over 85% of the global polyester market share.

How Much Does Polyester Cost?

In 2021, the average cost per ton of staple fiber polyester was approximately $1,053. This was an increase of over 20% when compared to 2020. The chart below indicates the movement of the polyester price over the last three years.

Slide 1 of 1
polyester cost
polyester cost
polyester cost

The Relative Cost of Polyester vs. Cotton and Viscose. Cost Amounts are in U.S. Dollars per Kilogram.

Image Credit: General Market Environment/reports.lenzing.com

Is Polyester a Long-Lasting Material?

Polyester is a very durable and long-lasting material. This is why it is used in applications that require long-lasting performance like seat belts, for example. 

Summary

This article summarized nine uses of polyester across different industries and discussed some of the most common types of the this material.

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.