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All about Polyester pt. 1

Posted: 14 October 2011 at 7:38 a.m.

Rainbows Trilobal Polyester Thread by Superior Threads

What's the difference between spun polyester and other types of polyester?

What is Trilobal polyester?

Is it OK to quilt with poly?

Imagine a product so versatile that it is in plastic soft drink and water bottles, clothing, carpets, curtains, sheets, wall coverings, upholstery, hoses, power belts, ropes, thread, tire cord, sails, floppy disk liners, filling for pillows and furniture, and it is also used to replace or reinforce damaged body tissue. Such is the convenience of polyester.

Polyesters can be in the form of plastics and fibers. Polyesters are the polymers that make the shatterproof plastic bottles that hold bottled water and soft drinks. And you know those fancy balloons with the cute messages imprinted on them? They are also made of polyester, more specifically, a sandwich composed of Mylar and aluminum foil. Our Glitter thread is similar to this.

The most common polyester for fiber purposes is ethylene terephthalate, or simply PET. This is also the same substance used for many soft drink bottles. Polyester fibers are created by extrusion, a process of forcing a thick, sticky liquid (about the consistency of cold honey) through the tiny holes of a spinneret, a device that looks like a shower head, to form continuous filaments of semi-solid polymer. Depending on the number of holes, monofilaments (one hole) or multifilaments (several holes) are produced. These fibers can be extruded in different cross-sectional shapes (round, Trilobal, pentagonal, octagonal, and others), resulting in different types of threads.

1. Spun polyester threads are made by spinning or twisting together shorter lengths of polyester fibers. This is similar to the way cotton threads are made. These are then twisted together to produce a thread of the desired size. Spun polyester threads give the look of a cotton thread, but provide superior strength and durability. Our Poly Quilter is this type of thread.

2. Filament poly is a continuous fiber thread. Some hear the word filament and incorrectly assume it is monofilament. Monofilament, which looks like fishing line, is just one type of filament thread. It is a single strand thread. Other filament threads are multiple filaments, which consist of two or three strands twisted together. This is the largest category of filament polyester. Multi-filament strands are smooth and lint free but are not transparent. The advantage of a lint-free thread is a cleaner machine and less maintenance. The Bottom Line, So Fine, Brytes, and LAVA are examples of this type.

3. Trilobal poly is a multiple filament, twisted, high-sheen continuous fiber thread. It has the bright appearance of rayon or silk. Triangular shaped fibers reflect more light and give an attractive sparkle to textiles. Our Rainbows, Highlights, Nature Colors, Super Brights, Art Studio Colors, and Living Colors threads are this type of polyester.

Polyester fibers recover quickly after extension and absorb very little moisture. Polyester is heat resistant (dryer and iron safe), with a melting temperature of 510 degrees F (in comparison, nylon melts at 350 degrees F). Polyester is colorfast, resistant to chemicals, and can be washed or dry-cleaned with most common cleaning solvents.

Watch for pt. 2 of All about Polyester in our next post!
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