Polyester and polyamides are very popular fabrics; you may have owned at least one of them at a certain point. These fabrics are useful in producing household items such as pillowcases, bedsheets, curtains, jackets, and sportswear, and little wonder they are highly valuable.
Some struggle to differentiate between polyester and polyamide because they are made from plastic and can have a similar look.
Identifying each fabric’s texture, usage, applications, and strength can help you use them best.
How Polyester and Polyamide are Produced
Polyester is a synthetic fabric, usually derived from petroleum; the fabric is a polymer composed of compounds within the ester functional group. Most of the fibers are made from ethylene, which is a constituent of petroleum. Polyester production may vary depending on the type of polyester the manufacturer makes.
To make polyester fiber, textile specialists react ethylene glycol with dimethyl terephthalate at high heat. The result is a monomer, which then reacts with dimethyl terephthalate to create a polymer. At the end of the production, the textile manufacturer produces staple, tow, or fiberfill filaments.
The work is not yet complete, though. The manufacturers may cut or make the resulting polymers react with various chemicals to achieve a final polyester product. For some applications, polyester fibers are spun into yarn before they are dyed or subjected to other post-production processes.
There is also plant-based polyester, where the ethylene source is sugar cane instead of petroleum. Polyester is important in the textile industry because most items like jackets, suits, and dresses made from cotton can also be made from polyester.
Like polyester, polyamide fabric is also a polymer made from strings of polyamide monomers. Polyamides can occur naturally and artificially. Examples of natural polyamides are wool and silk; In contrast, artificial polyamides include nylon, aramids, and sodium poly aspartate.
Textile manufacturers make polyamide fiber by extracting a monomer called diamine acid from crude oil. It then goes through the combining stage, the heating stage, extrusion, loading, stretching, drawing, spinning, and then the finishing stage.
However, there are different methods of polyamide production, and each manufacturer ultimately decides the steps or how he wants to produce polyamides. The bottom line is that they can derive polyamide from other sources, but the most common monomers are petroleum oil. Polyamides are also widely known as nylon or kevlar.
The Texture of Polyester vs Polyamide
Polyester fabrics are known for being strong, which means they are durable and do not suffer from the regular wear and tear other fibers may experience. They also do not have a very luxurious feel. Polyester fabrics can be coarse when made with thick yarn, while some can be smooth with natural silk or satin feel when made with thin yarn.
Ultimately, the texture of polyester will depend on the method of weaving the fabric. Due to the thigh weave and thickness, polyester does not stretch easily. However, some textile manufacturers mix spandex with polyester to make them stretchier.
Polyamides are usually softer than polyester because they are made as a synthetic alternative to silk. They are stretchy, soft to the touch yet tough, and have the highest abrasion resistance. They feel clingy, like plastic wrap, which explains why our bodies don’t feel comfortable in them.
The Physical Properties of Polyester vs Polyamide
For polyesters, their appearances vary depending on how they were made. Primarily, they look smooth and have a silk-like appearance. They have good elasticity, are wrinkle-resistant, durable, and have excellent wash and wear properties.
However, they are poor in moisture absorption, which makes the wearer feel hot and sticky, often leading to discomfort. Polyesters are also not affected by bleaching or organic solvent and are excellent barriers to oxygen and water vapor.
Polyamides, on the other hand, are wear-resistant, have good abrasion properties and good thermal resistance, and can be noise-dampening. They are also oil and fuel-resistant, and Polyamides have high flexibility and impact strength.
They are made to resist moisture absorption. Polyamides, like wool, silk, and nylon, are used to manufacture consumer products, while aramids are used to produce firefighting gears and bulletproof vests.
Nevertheless, polyamide production has had some pushback in recent years because it is environmentally unfriendly, partly because it is not biodegradable, making it a natural pollutant to the environment.
Durability of Polyester vs Polyamide
Because it is made from polymers, polyester is strong and resilient, making it difficult to suffer from tear, stretch, or pillage. These attributes are probably why polyester fabrics are commonly in demand. It is also wrinkle-free, dries up easily when it comes in contact with water, retains its shape well, and is highly resistant to stains.
Polyamides are also highly durable and chemical resistant, making them suitable for wires and cables. Polyamides are resistant to abrasion and wear corrosion and are quite flexible.
Uses of Polyester and Polyamide
The uses of polyester are enormous. We need polyester from our regular clothes to home furnishings, industrial fabrics, recording tapes, and electrical insulations. It has high tenacity, hydrophobic properties, and durability, which is why it is used in the production of outerwear, jackets, and garments that are to be used in wet environments.
Polyesters are also needed in manufacturing bed sheets, pillows, upholstery, mouse pads, polyester shirts, pants, hats, safety belts in cars, and tablecloths because of their resistance to staining. Their uses go beyond clothes to insulator cables and wires, tarps, and tire reinforcements. Polyester uses are almost endless.
Polyamide is used in the production of items that require flexibility and strength. We can see them in products like carpets, fishing lines, guitar picks, strings, electrical connectors, medical implants, and the food and beverage industry. They are also used in the conduit of electrical cables, fittings, and connectors. Polyamides like kevlar are used in making bulletproof vests. They also make general clothes, tents, medical kits, motor parts, and kitchen utensils.
How to Care for Polyester and Polyamide Fabrics
The first guide to washing any fabric is to read the care tag that comes with the product. Polyesters and polyamides can both be hand and machine-washed.
- Since polyester can attract oily stains and stick, try using a good stain remover or a heavy-duty detergent.
- Hang or store polyester in a plastic tube after washing and drying, as they are prone to wrinkling.
- When washing polyester, avoid chlorine bleach as this strips away the fiber’s outer coating; instead, opt for oxygen bleach and warm water.
- Do not wash at a high temperature, as this could damage the fabric.
Polyamide fabric also needs special care and maintenance for longevity.
- Washing polyamides in cold water is highly recommended, either with a hand or machine.
- After washing, the fabric should be air-dried and not heat-dried.
- Using fabric softener on polyamides is not recommended as this can clog the tiny holes it needs to breathe.
The benefits of polyesters and polyamides to us are numerous, and they serve different purposes for various needs ranging from clothes to hospital implants. Of course, we must care for polyamides and polyester to prevent damage properly; one way to do this is by remembering to read care tags before washing or caring for any of these products.