The Polyester Problem
By Gerald Brant
For decades, carpet manufacturers searched for a fiber that solved wear and soiling problems. A discovery of the 1950s was a new miracle fiber called polyester. Known for vivid colors, easy cleaning, and spot resistance, polyester revolutionized the clothing industry. Hailed as the new miracle fiber for carpet as well, volumes of polyester were produced before several problems became apparent.
First, polyester yarns were used in the now-infamous shag carpets. The twist in individual tufts that caused the carpet to look like – well, carpet – began to unravel. That tufts bloomed out, becoming entangled with neighboring tufts, and eventually a matted condition resulted – hardly what you’d call outstanding appearance retention. This problem was solved by using a combination of heat and pressure to set that twist, but immediately a new problem arose – crimp loss.
Crimp is a kinky characteristic that gives fibers a soft, bulky, luxurious look and feel. When polyester is stretched by traffic or vacuuming, fiber crimp is straightened. The straightened fiber causes the carpet to look prematurely worn, particularly in traffic areas. Because of the complaints crimp-loss generated, manufacturers shortened the yarn to solve the problem.
Enter Saxony piles.
Today, loss of twist in polyester has been solved, but crimp loss is still with us. After about a year, traffic areas with longer, cut-pile yarns look somewhat distorted.
Must all the desirable characteristics of polyester be lost because of one questionable trait? Not necessarily. If you desire the soil and stain resistance of polyester, but don’t want significant texture change in traffic areas, then you’ll need to select shorter, cut or loop pile designs. A reputable retailer will be glad to help.