Polyesters have a diverse set of applications including fibers, fabrics, disposable beverage containers, wood finishes, and films to archive and store paper.
Polyester has come a long way since its high profile in the 1970s as the fabric of leisure suits. Although pure polyester does not feel as soft as natural fibers such as cotton or wool, polyester has the advantage of wrinkle resistance as well as durability and color retention. But factor its characteristic quick-drying time and its resistance to mold and mildew, then polyester is not so easily dismissed. Modern fabric blends are made by spinning together polyester and natural fibers to take advantage of the best properties of both original materials. The resulting fabrics are used for everything from clothing to upholstery.
One type of polyester that has become ubiquitous is polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), which is the plastic used to make disposable water bottles with the recycling number 1. When these bottles are recycled they are turned into polyester fibers that can be used for clothing or carpet. Recycling plastic bottles also reduces the volume of material sent to landfills.
BoPET is a film stretched from PET and is sold under brand names such as Mylar®. BoPET films are versatile materials that may be used to make long-lasting party balloons or wrappers for Pop-Tarts® as well as high-performance sails for sailboats and solar sails for space crafts. BoPET film is so successful in protecting paper from moisture, heat, and cold that the Library of Congress uses it to store documents and the Comic Art Collection at Michigan State University uses it to archive comic books.
Polyesters also make excellent finishes for high quality wood products ranging from guitars and pianos to the interiors of yachts. The polyester easily fills in gaps of open-grained woods such as oak, mahogany, or walnut, and after curing it can be sanded and polished to a durable, high-gloss finish.
A brief history of polyester may be found at http://www.nyfashioncenterfabrics.com/polyester-fabric-info.html