What Is Tyvek Paper? | Paperwallet

by Ankit Rawal on July 24, 2018

When designing the original Paperwallet, it was crucial to identify a material able to keep up with life’s challenges and stand the test of time. It was also important to minimize waste and make strides to protect the environment. Tyvek® material was a natural choice to aid in achieving both of these goals. Now, all Paperwallet products are made using Tyvek® paper.

What is Tyvek®?

Tyvek® material acts like a superior combination of paper and fabric; Tyvek is flexible and malleable, but Tyvek also touts the ability to withstand moisture, chemicals, and extreme wear and tear. But what is Tyvek® paper and where did this powerful material come from?

Tyvek® paper had a slow beginning. The initial discovery of Tyvek was originally made in the United Kingdom in 1933. However, it took nearly two decades before the first commercialized low density version of Tyvek was developed in the mid-1950’s. It then took over a decade more of work before Tyvek was manufactured for sale in 1967. The immense potential of the product inspired research to progress quickly, resulting in the high density polyethylene fibers used for Tyvek® paper today.

Sheet of white Tyvek paper

What is Tyvek® Made Of?

Tyvek® paper was developed and commercialized by science company, DuPont™. The Tyvek paper is made of 100% high density polyethylene fibers. For those unfamiliar with the fiber, polyethylene is a polymer of the chemical compound known as ethylene. In the U.S., ethylene molecules are most commonly sourced from natural gas. It has the simplest basic structure of all existing polymers which is a key reason for many of its desirable features.

Only a few steps are needed to transform the polyethylene fibers into the Tyvek material. The thin polyethylene fibers are repeatedly spun out in layered strands and are compressed with heat and pressure, rather than woven. This process increases the strength and durability of Tyvek fabric. Once completely bonded, the resulting product is smooth, white Tyvek sheets which most closely resemble paper. The Tyvek paper can then be printed, painted, laminated, and shaped to create eco-friendly products.

Tyvek paper is made from Polyethylene fibers

Tyvek® paper is known for: 

  • Strength and durability
  • Its lightweight and malleable nature
  • Resistance to liquids and chemicals
  • Resistance to mold and mildew
  • Insulating properties

Though the proper names might be unfamiliar, it is very likely you have already encountered polyethylene fibers and Tyvek® paper in daily life. Packaging materials, tags and signs, manuals, maps, safety and construction equipment, apparel, and art are all common items made from Tyvek®.

How Does Tyvek® Help the Environment?

Because Tyvek® is made from polyethylene fibers, the same material as recyclable plastic bottles, it is 100% recyclable. When Tyvek is mechanically recycled, the polyethylene fibers can be converted into many items including underground cable protection piping, automotive parts, blown film, packaging materials and cores, and trays. On average, Tyvek’s polyethylene fibers are able to be recycled between four and five times before a weakened change of physical properties occurs.

Tyvek® paper is also a synthetic fiber qualified for chemical feedstock recycling. This Tyvek recycling process strips the basic chemical components away to be reused, ultimately reducing the amount of oil resources used for further production. Due to Tyvek® paper’s lightweight, the energy and resources needed to produce the product are heavily decreased. This results in less overall material waste at the conclusion of the item’s lifespan.

At Paperwallet, we take our commitment to the environment one step further. We facilitate the recycling of Paperwallets by offering customers a 20% discount on a new wallet when they send us an old one for recycling.

Why Tyvek® is the Best Material for Our Products

Paperwallets are designed with intention to meet the users' every need. The optimal wallet is compact and minimalistic, flexible and long-lasting, and waterproof. Tyvek® meets each of these requirements, making it the best material for our products. 

Tyvek® is Strong and Durable

The wonder of Tyvek® material is that it is highly resistant to rips, tears, and snags, but Tyvek is still able to be cut and designed into the shapes and parts needed to design superior slim wallets, coin pouches, and other accessories. Many who first encounter Tyvek® are surprised and impressed by its strength considering its thin and light qualities.

Tyvek® is Lightweight and Flexible

Tyvek® paper has a high strength-to-weight ratio, which allows for increased production using less energy and resources than other materials. The slim Tyvek sheets have a look and feel similar to paper, fabric, and plastic. This means Tyvek sheets can be folded, layered, and sewn together without breaking or cracking. This makes Tyvek the perfect material to combine with Paperwallet’s origami-inspired wallet designs.

Tyvek® is Waterproof

Unlike regular paper products, Tyvek® does not absorb water. Tyvek actually repels it, which keeps our products safe from accidents and spills. In addition to the surface of Tyvek® repelling water, the physical properties are unaffected by liquids, retaining its original strength, flexibility, and artwork. Designed for long term use and continued vibrancy, it was important to us that the Tyvek® Paperwallet and accessories are able to withstand a lot more than a little water.

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