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In 1955 Eastman Kodak used Mylar as a support for photographic film and called it "ESTAR Base". The very thin and tough film allowed 6,000-foot (1,800 m) reels to be exposed on long-range U-2 reconnaissance flights.
In 1964, NASA launched Echo II, a 40-metre (131 ft) diameter balloon constructed from a 9-micrometre (0.00035 in) thick mylar film sandwiched between two layers of 4.5-micrometre (0.00018 in) thick aluminium foil bonded together.
Manufacture and properties
Chemical structure of polyethylene terephthalate
The manufacturing process begins with a film of molten polyethylene terephthalate (PET) being extruded onto a chill roll, which quenches it into the amorphous state. It is then biaxially oriented by drawing. The most common way of doing this is the sequential process, in which the film is first drawn in the machine direction using heated rollers and subsequently drawn in the transverse direction, i.e. orthogonally to the direction of travel, in a heated oven. It is also possible to draw the film in both directions simultaneously, although the equipment required for this is somewhat more elaborate. Draw ratios are typically around 3 to 4 in each direction.
Once the drawing is completed, the film is "heat set" or crystallized under tension in the oven at temperatures typically above 200 °C (392 °F). The heat setting step prevents the film from shrinking back to its original unstretched shape and locks in the molecular orientation in the film plane. The orientation of the polymer chains is responsible for the high strength and stiffness of biaxially oriented PET film, which has a typical Young's modulus of about 4 GPa (0.58×10^6 psi). Another important consequence of the molecular orientation is that it induces the formation of many crystal nuclei. The crystallites that grow rapidly reach the boundary of the neighboring crystallite and remain smaller than the wavelength of visible light. As a result, biaxially oriented PET film has excellent clarity, despite its semicrystalline structure.
If it were produced without any additives, the surface of the film would be so smooth that layers would adhere strongly to one another when the film is wound up, similar to the sticking of clean glass plates when stacked. To make handling possible, microscopic inert inorganic particles are usually embedded in the PET to roughen the surface of the film such as silicon dioxide.
Uses for boPET polyester films include, but are not limited to:
Flexible packaging and food contact
Laminates containing metallized boPET foil (in technical language called printin or laminate web substrate) protect food against oxidation and aroma loss, achieving long shelf life. Examples are coffee "foil" packaging and pouches for convenience foods.
White boPET web substrate is used as lidding for dairy goods such as yogurt.
Clear boPET web substrate is used as lidding for fresh or frozen ready meals. Due to its excellent heat resistance, it can remain on the package during microwave or oven heating.
boPET film is used in bagging comic books, in order to best protect them during storage from environmental conditions (moisture, heat, and cold) that would otherwise cause paper to slowly deteriorate over time. This material is used for archival quality storage of documents by the Library of Congress (Mylar® type D, ICI Melinex 516 or equivalent) and several major library comic book research collections, including the Comic Art Collection at Michigan State University. While boPET is widely (and effectively) used in this archival sense, it is not immune to the effects of fire and heat and could potentially melt, depending on the intensity of the heat source, causing further damage to the encased item.
Similarly, trading card decks (such as Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering, and Yu-Gi-Oh!) are packaged in pouches or sleeves made of metallized boPET. It can also be used to make the holographic artwork featured on some cards, typically known as "holos", "foils", "shinies", or "holofoils".
Translucent Mylar film, as wide as 48" and in up to 12' in length, found widespread use as a non-dimensional engineering drawing media in the aerospace industry due to its dimensional stability (also see Printing Media section below). This allows production and engineering staff to lay manufactured parts directly over or under the drawing film in order to verify the fidelity of part profiles, hole locations and other part features.
Metallized boPET solar curtains reflect sunlight and heat away from windows.
Aluminized, as an inexpensive solar eclipse viewer, although care must be taken, because invisible fissures can form in the metal film, reducing its effectiveness.
Amateur and professional visual and telescopic solar filters. BoPET films are often annealed to a glass element to improve thermal conductivity, and guarantee the necessary flat surface needed for even telescopic solar observation. Manufacturers will typically use films with thicknesses of 280-500 micrometres (0.011-0.020 in), in order to give the films better resilience. 250-micrometre (0.0098 in) thickness films with a heavy aluminium coating are generally preferred for naked-eye Solar observation during eclipses.
Films in annular ring mounts on gas-tight cells, will readily deform into spherical mirrors. Photomultipliercosmic-ray observatories often make use of these mirrors for inexpensive large (1.0 m and above), lightweight mirror surfaces for sky-sector low and medium energy cosmic ray research.
As a light diaphragm material separating gases in hypersonic shock and expansion tube facilities.
Insulating material for a cryocooler radiation shield.
As a window material to confine gas in detectors and targets in nuclear physics.
In CT scanners it acts as a physical barrier between the xray-tube, detector ring and the patient allowing negligible attenuation of the xray beam when active.
Spacecraft are insulated with a metallized BoPET film.
The Descent stage of the apollo's lunar module is covered in BoPET because it's lightweight and made sure the inside temperature of the inside of the desecent stage (where a significant amount of apperature was stored) was normal.
boPET film has been used in the production of banjo & drumheads since 1958 due to its durability and acoustical properties when stretched over the bearing edge of the drum. They are made in single- and double-ply versions, with each ply being 2-10 mils (0.051-0.254 mm) in thickness, with a transparent or opaque surface, originally used by the company Evans.
Clear and white boPET films are used as core layers and overlays in Smart Cards.
Before the widespread adoption of CAD, engineering drawings or architectural drawings were plotted onto sheets of boPET film, known as drafting film. The boPET sheets become legal documents from which copies or blueprints are made. boPET sheets are more durable and can withstand more handling than bond paper. Although "blueprint" duplication has fallen out of use, mylar is still used for its archival properties, typically as a record set of plans for building departments to keep on file.
Used in dentistry when restoring teeth with composite.
In nail polish, as a coloured and finely shredded additive to create a glitter effect.
Numismatics – The product is used instead of PVC for safe coin storage. Chemical composition is more conducive to the metals coins are made of i.e. silver & copper. (Coins used to be stored in PVC sleeves which damage coins when exposed for longer periods due to chlorine being released.)