Material of the Day: Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) Niko Minasola

Personal Background

When I was in grade school I learned to play drums using Rock Band. By 8th grade, I had saved up enough money to buy my first drum set. From there I continued to teach myself to play along to different songs. Junior year of high school I joined a band, and we created original music. We played 5 or 6 shows in Downtown Cleveland over the course of two years. Unfortunately I have not had anywhere to store or play my drums since i left for college.
My personal drum set.

Common uses of PET


Characteristics of Drumheads

A drum head being tuned (MusicRadar).

Drum heads require very unique characteristics under extremely stressful conditions. The head must be able to maintain shape and stiffness when getting struck by the drum stick. The drum head must also be able to be put in extreme tension when the head gets installed. To tune the drum head, the drummer changes the tension on the head, giving different vibrations. So the head must be able to keep its strength after multiple changes in tension. Drum heads get changed dependent on how hard the drummer hits and how often the drummer plays, but most often it's around every 4-6 months. With this long life, drum heads must also have a very high resistance to fatigue.

Why We use PET FOr HEads

Chemical composition of PET (Encyclopedia Britannica).

The presence of a large aromatic ring in PET gives the polymer notable stiffness and strength, especially when the polymer chains are aligned with one another in an orderly arrangement by stretching (Encyclopedia Britannica). This means that when the head is tightened for tuning, it actually becomes stronger, which is perfect for application. The extreme stiffness of PET fibers is what drives its fatigue resistance, making them resistant to deformation.

Example of a used drum head. This head definitely needs to be replaced as you can see some dents have started forming.


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Niko Minasola

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