One of the pillars of Jason Mills’ knit fabrics product line is polyester mesh. This versatile material is used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications, ranging from the aerospace and automotive sectors to the marine and medical sectors as well as the indoor and outdoor recreational trade.
The following article provides an overview of polyester mesh, discussing its properties, advantages, and applications. It also outlines the differences between polyester and nylon mesh and the importance of fabric finishing and treatment in achieving a particular end-use outcome or performance.
An Overview of Polyester Mesh Fabric
The term “knit mesh fabric” is a general expression used to describe material that is constructed with an open hole structure through the process of knitting (as opposed to weaving which is separate operation). Beyond this broad characteristic, the design of a specific knit mesh material can vary from others in regard to yarn, material weight, aperture opening, width, color, and finish. Polyester yarn is one of the most commonly used fibers in the manufacture of knit mesh fabric.
Polyester consists of flexible, synthetic polymer fibers created through a chemical reaction between alcohol, carboxylic acid, and a petroleum byproduct. The resulting fibers are then stretched and oriented together to form a strong yarn that naturally repels water, resists staining, ultraviolet degradation, and holds up to frequent use. (Please note, water-resistance and other properties inherent in polyester yarn must be enhanced within the finishing process if it is necessary for the performance of the material. This is discussed in greater detail below.)
Properties and Advantages of Polyester Mesh Fabric
Compared to other mesh materials, polyester fabric exhibits a number of advantageous properties that make it suitable for use in a variety of industrial, commercial, and recreational applications, such as:
- Ease of use and accessibility. Polyester is a common fiber available at most textile manufacturing facilities. When treated with a light resin the mesh material is easy to install (sew) and clean, thus reducing excess time and labor required for its integration and maintenance.
- Dimensional stability. Polyester fibers demonstrate good elasticity, which allows the material to return to its original shape after it is stretched by up to 5–6%. It’s important to note that mechanical stretch is different from fiber stretch. One can design hi-stretch material using dimensionally stable yarns.
- Durability. Polyester mesh fabric is highly resilient, offering inherent resistance to damage and degradation stemming from acidic and alkaline chemicals, corrosion, flames, heat, light, mold and mildew, and wear. Factors such a yarn weight (denier), entanglement, and filament count all are critical in determining durability.
- Hydrophobicity: Polyester mesh is hydrophobic—i.e., tends to repel water—which translates to superior pigment absorption (meaning easier dyeing operations- as opposed to type 6 or 66 nylon) and drying times (meaning better moisture-wicking properties).
Altogether, these characteristics suit the material for use in a wide range of applications, including ones involving outdoor and demanding environmental conditions.
As indicated above, polyester mesh fabric is highly versatile. Some of the industries that regularly employ the material for their parts and products include:
- The aerospace, automotive, and marine industries for curtains, cargo nets, safety harnesses, seat support substrates, literature pockets, and tarps.
- The filtration industry for filters and screens.
- The medical and healthcare industries for curtains, braces, IV bag supports, and patient slings and support systems
- The occupational safety industry for cut-resistant clothing, high-visibility vests, and safety flags
- Recreational sporting goods industry for aquaculture equipment, camping supplies backpacks, etc.), golf simulator impact screens, and protective netting.
The exact properties exhibited by the polyester mesh fabric employed depend on the needs of the application and industry.
Knit mesh fabric is most commonly made from either polyester or nylon yarns. While the two synthetic polymers share some properties—e.g., lightweight, durability, and tear resistance—there are several key distinctions that make them suitable for different applications.
- Nylon has a smoother and softer feel than polyester, which in some situations makes it more ideal for use in applications requiring high aesthetic quality or user comfort. But, as noted above, other factors such as a high filament count can make polyester just as drapey as soft nylon.
- Nylon is hydrophilic (absorbs water), while polyester is hydrophobic (repels water). As such, the former is more likely to be bogged down with water in high-moisture or high-humidity environments, while the latter dries quickly in marine and aquatic settings.
- Nylon fibers are innately resistant to wear from bending and stretching, while polyester fibers are inherently resistant to heat and UV rays. These qualities make nylon mesh more suitable for applications where the material will be regularly subjected to bending and stretching, and polyester mesh more suitable for end uses where stability is key and for environments exposed to heat and sunlight. And again, it needs to be noted that these inherent qualities are basic at best. Finishing and treatment are key to performance. See below.
The Importance of Fabric Finishing and Treatment
The functional and aesthetic properties demonstrated by a polyester mesh fabric are dependent upon many factors. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the final stages of textile production, otherwise known as “the finish”. The finish is typically a topically applied chemical that is set by heat during the process called framing. Once completed, these processes can affect the texture, weight, firmness, colorfastness, and resistances (UV, fire, etc.) of the final material.
As indicated above, the properties exhibited by a fully finished and treated polyester mesh fabric vary depending on the needs of the application and the industry. Some examples include:
- Antibacterial finishes: Topically applied anti-microbial finishes eliminate bacterial growth on the surface of the fabric. Bacteria growth creates odor and is also responsible for various healthcare-associated infections. This makes the need for these types of finishes essential for equipment used in the medical and healthcare industries. They are also suitable for sporting equipment as they minimize the spread of odor-causing bacteria.
- Anti-static finishes: In operations involving sensitive electrical and electronic components, it is important to minimize the buildup of static charge. Fabrics with anti-static coatings reduce the risk of employees and equipment producing static discharge that impacts the integrity of the components.
- UV resistant finishes: Untreated material exposed to UV rays fades and degrades over time. As such, polyester mesh intended for use in outdoor environments (e.g., recreational equipment) requires the addition of UV inhibitors to the fabric finish or dye formulation to retain the original integrity.
- Fire Resistant finishes: One of the most commonly used finishes; used to achieve FR compliance in the automotive industry, aeronautical industry, and architectural interior industry (think curtains and indoor rec areas).
Jason Mills: The Experts in Polyester Mesh Fabric Solutions
Polyester knit mesh is a material solution that finds use across a wide range of industrial, commercial, and recreational sectors. Its strength, stability, and durability make it well-suited for many applications. For customers looking for high-quality polyester mesh fabric, the team at Jason Mills is here to help.
At Jason Mills, we specialize in the manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution of industrial polyester and nylon knit mesh. We offer a broad selection of standard textiles and custom-tailored fabric solutions for customers with highly specific or unique needs. For additional information about our standard and custom textiles, contact us or request a quote today.