Polyester is the most economical and quality fibre used in textiles. Polymer is obtained by polymerization of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and monoethylene glycol (MEG).This polymer is melt spun and filaments called tow are obtained in bundles. This tow undergoes further processes like drawing, crimping, spin finish application and is cut into fixed lengths to get fibres similar to cotton fibres. They are known as Polyester Staple Fibers (PSF).


PSF can be blended with natural fibers like cotton and wool, and synthetic fibres like rayon to manufacture polyester blended yarns. Fabrics made from this blended yarn are called blended spun yarn. It has the values of both natural fibres of high tenacity and easy caring nature of polyester fibres. Polyester has a high melting point and this gives good thermal stability to it.


Polyester dominates the Synthetic Fibres segment:


Polyester, nylon and acrylic are the most popularly used synthetic fibres. In this segment, polyester consumption dominates the scenario by 77 percent, followed by nylon with 12.9 percent, acrylic with 8.6 percent and other fibres making 1.5 percent. It can also be blended with other fibres effectively to enhance the look and durability of the fabric. It is blended with cotton for getting stain and wrinkle resistance. Blending with wool gives the fabric wrinkle resistance and retention of shape during any type of weather conditions. Mixing with rayon gives resilient and durable abilities to the fabric. Combination of polyester with nylon gives strength and abrasion resistance to the clothes.


Global Statistics:


Consumption of Polyester Staple Fibre during 2000-2006 witnessed an average annual increase of 5.3 percent. In 2006, it increased to 11.4 percent. An approximate growth rate of 6.3 percent for polyester market is expected for the coming years upto 2011. Global annual production of polyester is around 36 million tons. China is the major producer of polyester fabrics, and accounts to 55 percent of the global production. It is also a major consumer of the same. A report estimates that domestic polyester consumption of China would increase by 8.3 percent annually, and from 15.3 million tons in 2005 to 18.3 million tons in 2008.China is followed by other Asian countries of India, Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan. In Western Europe, Japan, and U.S. polyester industry is undergoing a substantial decrease in both production and consumption. They are facing a tough competition from Asian countries, particularly China, and hence are looking for options to shift to other value-added-fibres.


Increasing cotton prices and declining consumption:


Over the past two years, global cotton consumption has fallen short of 15 million bales due to soaring prices. Reduced cotton production and higher prices led to a decline in the global cotton consumption. During 1994 98, global cotton consumption was 88 million bales. Increased prices in cotton will result in the textile mills looking for cheaper options. This will make PSF a good cotton substitute.


The blue line in the graph represents the global production of cotton. The pink line indicates global cotton consumption. Cotton production graph has a drastic, fluctuating nature. The period when total consumption is more and production is less is the period when cotton prices will be high. This is shown by a circle in the figure. This phase occurred previously during 2003 which gave way for polyester fibres to overtake the market. This gap in the demand supply scenario where cotton consumption is more than production, and lack of availability of good quality cotton may drive the cotton prices higher.


This increase in the price trend of cotton will ultimately result in the manufacturers looking for cheaper options. PSF will offer promising benefits to them due to its uninterrupted availability, cheap material cost, flexibility and variety of applications etc.


Percentage of Global Cotton Consumption during 2001- 06



The percentage of cotton consumption at a global level has been decreasing gradually for the past few years particularly after 2003. This was the period, when synthetic fibres took over the market. With diverse end uses and applications, demand for synthetic fibres is way ahead of cotton.


Data Source: http://www.icac.org


The above graph indicates that cottons share in the world market has a downward slope. The US Federal Department of Agricultures forecast for the current year indicates a decline in the cotton consumption and a shift to other crops. A recent industry report on the US cotton consumption says that it has a declining trend for 2008. It further predicts that the consumption will be not more than 1 million tons for 2008, a 6.5 percent decrease from the previous year.


Cotton prices for the current year is higher than the previous year, whereas yarn prices are 10 percent less as compared to the previous year. Mostly farmers take heavy loans to cultivate cotton. Regular slumps in the price of cotton in the international market indicate that they are unable to recover any profit making them unable to repay their loans. Further they are also forced to meet competition with international supply even in their domestic markets. This trend in the international prices of cotton is driving many small and poor farmers to suicide.


Polyester Fibre Consumption A cotton surrogate:


Polyester fibre consumption is expected to be an apt substitute for cotton because it will help to overcome the threat and shortage of unsteady supply of the latter. With cotton, comparatively, polyester fibre consumption increased drastically from 59 million bales in 1994 to 75 million bales in 1998. Since then, the quantity of polyester consumption increased substantially and in 2003, its figures surpassed cotton consumption. Its production grew 11 percent in 2004 making it the fastest growing man made fibre. During 2005 its value grew by 9.5 percent making $ 33 billion USD, two times in volume than the previous year. It constitutes to 75 percent of the global man made fibre with an estimated growth of 45 percent in 2008.



Comparative graph of growth percentage in the demand of
Cotton and Polyester
(Past, Current, and Projected growth trend)

Global polyester demand shows an increasing trend during the past years. Its demand showed a drastic change during 2000, and its demand overtook cotton during 2005. Global polyester production capacity stands at 36 million tons. Consumption of polyester fibre had an average annual growth of 5.3 percent during 2000 2006. Due to its characteristics of superior functionality and property, this fibre is used widely in apparel industries and home textiles. There is no saturation or decline in the projected demand for polyester in the forthcoming years as well. Developing Asian countries are attempting to become eminent markets for polyester fibres.


Applications of Polyester Fibre Apparel Industry has a vast scope:


The applications of polyester fibres are wide spread. It can be effectively used in home furnishings for products like carpets, curtains, pillow cases, upholstery etc, in industrial textiles, in auto motive industries, and mainly in the apparel industry. In the apparel industry, polyester fibres are used in every form of clothing due to its easy caring, and maintenance facility. It is widely used in garment manufacturing because of its tenacity, and durability. Since these fibres can be molded into any shape, certain insulating properties can be easily built in the fibre.

The effect of polyester price on cotton price is stronger than vice versa. Currently polyester has overtaken cotton as a leading textile fibre. Polyester is the current main synthetic fibre globally and is rightly called as the poor mans cotton.




1) http://www.spinworthfibres.com

2) http://www.e4s.org.uk36

3) www.emergingtextiles.com

4) http://findarticles.com/

5) http://www.cottoninc.com



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