Monday, 5 September 2016
Plastic to Polyester?
How it’s made
Did you know that plastic bottles can be made into clothing? It is a very time consuming process but the outcome is worth it!
At a big factory the plastic bottles go into a large shredder. Shredding helps get all the excess liquid out of the bottles so it doesn't affect the condition of the plastic. After that the shredded bottles are wrapped up and are ready to be shipped around the world.
After the plastic has been on a big trip is is now at a factory and is sorted into piles. The two piles contain clear plastic (which is used to make white clothing and can be dyed) and the coloured plastic.
Usually the clear plastic has colourful lids and stickers on them, and they (the caps and stickers) can't be made into clothing. First of all the plastic goes into a tub to remove the caps, the lids of a bottle are made out of a plastic that floats. So what workers have to do is scoop out the floating plastic from the top. To remove the stickers there is a separate container full of a chemical compound that is bad for skin, so workers have to be careful. They then scoop out all the stickers from the top.
After the plastic has been soaked, the clear shreds are a little wet, so they are placed in a oven, that is mixed with some white coloured plastic. To develop white cloth you need some light material in the oven mix. The plastic spends around ten hours in pivoting drums getting dry. Workers have to move around large containers to catch the plastic as it falls out of the drums.
After the plastic is dry and mixed to make the right colours, it goes into a rotating pipe where it is heated up and melted. It is very hard to weave plastic when it is in big clumps, so it is forced through a sieve. Now there is tiny little strings that are gathered in a big container underneath.
Now they have thread but it is not strong enough to make fabric yet. It has to be stretched while getting heated so the fibres will mould together. Now that it has taken a long time to get to this stage it is time to rip the materiel. The fluff that appears is the substance you need to make polyester.
The fabric is ripped to shreds, the next procedure takes place in a whole different factory. When it is at the factory a machine scraps the cotton wool like fabric onto a rough cloth. It is rubbing against the rough cloth because the bonded fibres rush together in the same direction to create “polyester felt”.
The amount of "polyester felt" that emerges is now ready to be turned into thread. Machines tease out the materiel and it spins, mile after mile, and now it is thread on a bobbin. Now it has reached the point where old plastic turns into real cloth, a big machine spins all of the cloth together to create one big sheet of polyester fabric.
If you want a smooth cloth, there is still 2 more procedures left. The first one is very delicate, it creates tiny loops on the surface. The second stage is the complete opposite, it goes through a series of tough steel brushes. The brushes catch and tear all the loops. The shredded surface helps make the materiel have a soft fluffy feel. Now that the polyester is done, it is time to make clothes.
That is how plastic turns into polyester!