Posted on: 6 January 2015Share
Flags and banners are flown in salute of your patriotism, to display your allegiance for your favorite sports team, or just to advertise and promote a worthy cause. Ever wonder how the polyester material frequently used for custom flags and banners is manufactured?
Is it the same stuff that the infamous dress suits of the 70's were made from? Here are the basic steps that go into the making of the polyester fabric used for custom flags and banners.
The majority of the polyester used as the backing material for signs, banners and custom flags, is made from petroleum, specifically the acid and alcohol byproducts. While the actual process of making certain grades of polyester may vary only slightly from one manufacturer to another, equally as little is known about each company's unique methods.
Polyester manufactures enjoy keeping any specific tricks or shortcuts their company might use, as secretive as possible to enhance their competitive edge. While slight variations in the manufacturing process of polyester might exist from company to company, there are three common steps inherent to making the material used for custom flags and banners.
Step 1: A chemical reaction is created within a sealed vacuum using the acid and alcohol extracted from the petroleum. This process is referred to as polymerization and produces a material that is cast onto a cooling wheel. The polymerized material is then machine cut into small chips.
Step 2: These small chips are then dried and placed into a reservoir where they are again heated to their melting point. Polyester is what is called a melt-spun fiber.
The heated fibers are forced through a small thimble shaped head called a spinneret. When the material is exposed to the air it instantly cools and is woven loosely around huge cylinders.
Step 3: The final stage is where polyester of different levels of thickness is made. This is called drawing. The fiber that was wound around the cylinders is once again heated and then stretched.
The degree in which the fiber is stretched is one of the methods used to gauge the various qualities of polyester. Fibers that are stretched to greater lengths will become thinner and produce a less resilient sheet of polyester than those that are only stretched slightly.
This stage of making polyester is also where different chemical agents such as delusterants are added. A delusterant will reduce the naturally heavy sheen that standard synthetic polyesters have. Sometimes you may want a matte finish for your sign, but other times the glossy shine works best. This 3rd step in the process is where the natural shine of synthetic polyester can be dulled.
So, the polyester used to make signs and banners sold at places like All American Flag & Pennant, is a synthesized material that comes in various quality levels depending on the need for durability. But, it's not the same type of polyester that was used to make the suits that proliferated the disco floors of the 1970's.
The process is fairly standard, but individual polyester manufacturers will claim to have secret tricks that make their polyester a little better than the other guy. Understanding a little bit about how the polyester flag material is made can help you pick which grade is exactly right for you.