How is polyester fiber made?

When you put colored sugar granules in the top of a hot metal cup that has tiny holes in it, it’s a lot like how polyester fiber is made.

The sugar melts, and when the cup rotates at a high speed, tiny threads of molten sugar come shooting out of the spinnerets (the little holes) and, when they hit the cool air, immediately harden into sweet cobwebby material.

The machine’s operator gathers the spun sugar around a cardboard cone and sells it at an inflated price, considering that it’s basically just a few tablespoons of sugar.

Now pretend that the polyester chips you saw are sugar, and essentially repeat the process above, but with a larger machine. That’s how they make the basic polyester fiber.

After being spun, it’s usually wrapped around a spool, heated again, stretched, and then wound into threads. During that process, polyester is often mixed with other fibers, notably cotton.

While polyester lessens wrinkling, the addition of the natural fibers lets perspiration absorb away from the body, solving the affliction of the “Disco Fever Sweats” that plagued wearers of 100 percent polyester clothes in the 1970s.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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