Polyester is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term “polyester” as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyester fabrics may exhibit other advantages over natural fabrics, such as improved wrinkle resistance. Polyester dries fast since it’s not particularly absorbent to begin with. It doesn’t require hot water in the wash, because it doesn’t get all that dirty.

Polyester has a high strength-to-weight ratio, and is the most widely sold manufactured fiber. It is utilized in all types of clothing, home furnishings (bedspreads, sheets, pillows, curtains, furniture, and carpets), and as a reinforcing fiber in tires, belts, and hoses. It is also the most heavily recycled polymer in the world. New insulating polyester fiberfill products – put to the test by climbers on Mount Everest – are used in climbing suits, sleeping bags, parkas, and other high-performance outdoor wear. Polyester fleece lines dry suits to permit winter windsurfing.

This material is widely used in the apparel industry and makes a fantastic material for reusable shopping bags.

Polyester Fiber Characteristics

  • Strong
  • Resistant to stretching and shrinking
  • Resistant to most chemicals
  • Quick drying
  • Crisp and resilient when wet or dry
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Mildew resistant
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Retains heat-set pleats and crease
  • Easily washed


Nylon is a thermoplastic silky material, first used commercially in a nylon-bristled toothbrush (1938), followed more famously by women’s stockings (“nylons”; 1940). It is made of repeating units linked by peptide bonds (another name for amide bonds) and is frequently referred to as polyamide (PA). Nylon was the first commercially successful synthetic polymer.

This material is widely used in the apparel industry and makes a fantastic material for reusable shopping bags.

Nylon Fiber Characteristics

  • Exceptionally strong
  • Elastic
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Lustrous
  • Easy to wash
  • Resistant to damage from oil and many chemicals
  • Can be pre-colored or dyed in wide range of colors
  • Resilient
  • Low in moisture absorbency
  • Filament yarns provide smooth, soft, long-lasting fabrics
  • Spun yarns lend fabrics light weight and warmth


Cotton is a soft, staple fiber that grows in a form known as a boll around the seeds of the cotton plant, a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, India and Africa. The fiber most often is spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile, which is the most widely used natural-fiber cloth in clothing today.

From an engineering standpoint, cotton is a beauty, its soft cellulose fibers densely interlocked for strength.


Polyolefins such as Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP) are simpler polymer structures that do not need plasticizers, although they do use additives such as UV and heat stabilizers, antioxidants and in some applications flame retardants. The polyolefins pose fewer risks and have the highest potential for mechanical recycling. Both PE and PP are versatile and cheap, and can be designed to replace almost all PVC applications. PE can be made either hard, or very flexible, without the use of plasticizers. PP is easy to mold and can also be used in a wide range of applications.

Polypropylene Fiber Characteristics

  • Able to give good bulk and cover
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Colorfast
  • Quick drying
  • Low static
  • Resistant to deterioration from chemicals, mildew, perspiration, rot and weather
  • Stain and soil resistant
  • Strong
  • Sunlight resistant
  • Very comfortable
  • Very lightweight (olefin fibers have the lowest specific gravity of all fibers)