PET, which stands for polyethylene terephthalate, is a clear, strong and lightweight plastic belonging to the polyester family.
It is typically called “polyester” when used for fibers or fabrics, and “PET” or “PET Resin” when used for bottles, jars, containers and packaging applications.
PET is the world’s packaging choice for many foods and beverages because it is hygienic, strong, lightweight, shatterproof, and retains freshness. It is most commonly used to package carbonated soft drinks and water. Consumers can identify PET containers by the triangular #1 resin identification code found on the bottom of PET bottles and jars.
It’s insulating properties and notable heat and flame-resistance render it the ideal choice for projects that involve high fire risk or excessive heat. Because the material is a thermoplastic, polycarbonate can easily be heated or cooled multiple times without experiencing the effects of degradation. Working temperatures range from as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit to upwards of 266 degrees Fahrenheit.
Virtually all single-serving and 2-liter bottles of sodas and water sold in the U.S. are made from PET plastic. PET is also popular for packaging salad dressings, cooking oil, peanut butter, shampoo, liquid hand soap, mouthwash, and other personal care items. Special grades of PET are used for take-out containers and prepared food trays that can be warmed in the oven or microwave.
PET is a very inert material that is resistant to attack by micro-organisms, and does not react with food products, which is why it is widely preferred for packaging foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals. Health-safety agencies around the world have approved PET as safe for use with foods and beverages.
Although the feedstocks for PET are petroleum based, the environmental impact of PET is very favorable in comparison to glass, aluminum and other recyclable container materials. That’s because the light weight and strength of PET allows more product to be delivered with less packaging weight and less fuel than most other container materials.
PET is heat sensitive material and its forming temperature range is narrow.
PET is generally extruded to produce films and sheets (can be thermoformed after) for food packaging applications.. Its extrusion temperature: 270-290°C.
PET filaments are known to produce 3D Printed objects having high flexibility and toughness.
PET offers significant advantages (weight, durability, versatility) compared to alternative materials, making it a widely used polymer in the packaging and textile sectors. As they have a short lifespan, almost all PET products marketed are transformed into waste, making PET a priority target for recycling. Low diffusion coefficient makes PET much more suitable than other plastic materials for use as a recovered, recycled material.
As with virgin PET, recycled PET or rPET flakes are used in several applications some of which include:
- Fiber for carpet, fleece jackets, comforter fill, and tote bags
- Containers for food, beverages(bottles), and non-food items
- Automotive parts (carpets, sound insulation, boot linings, seat covers)
- Film and sheet
- Strapping, and
- Industrial end-use items (geotextiles and roof insulation)
What are the main applications of PET?
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a chemically stable polyester, and its use has risen dramatically in the last few decades with a multitude of applications, ranging from food and drink containers to the manufacture of electronic & automotive components and as fibers in clothes.
Amorphous PET is used for the production of bottles and packaging due to its high transparency, which is very similar to that of glass. In other cases, a semi-crystalline state of polymer is used, which has a milky white color and is opaque.
PET are strong, flexible, and offer additional benefit of less wrinkles and shrinkage over cotton. Polyester fabrics are light-weight, reduced-wind, drag-resistant and more resistant to tears.