Nylon is one of the most useful synthetic material with applications varying from day-to-day life activities to industries. Nylon is plastic that can easily be drawn into fibres. It can easily be moulded into daily products for making amenities. We live our whole life with nylon on our side. You hop across the nylon carpet to the kitchen, eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner on a nylon bowl. After cleaning teeth with a toothbrush whose bristles of toothbrush are of nylon. An umbrella overhead is in use to move out of the house in heavy sunlight or to keep out of the rain is of nylon.



What is Nylon?

Nylon is a generic nomination for a family of synthetic polymers. It is composed of polyamides i.e., repeating units linked by amide links. It is a thermoplastic and very silky material that can be melt and processed into fibres, films, or shapes. Nylon polymers can frequently be mixed with a broad variety of additives to achieve many different property variations.

Nylon polymers are significant commercial applications in fabric. It is significant in various fibres too like apparel, flooring and rubber reinforcement, in shapes like parts for cars, electrical equipment, etc.

Chemistry Behind Nylon

The term nylon points to a polymer family that are linear polyamides. There are two approaches to make nylon for fibre applications. In the first approach, the molecules that consist of an acidic group i.e., COOH on every end react with molecules that contain amino \(NH_2\) groups at each end. The resulting nylon gets its name based upon the number of carbon atoms that separates the two acidic groups and two amines.

Thus, nylon 6,6 is widely in use as fibres manufactured from adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine. The nylon molecules are very flexible with only weak forces, such as hydrogen bonds that is between the polymer chains. The polymer has to be heated and drawn out to form strong fibres of it.

The salt that is made up of two compounds is called nylon that has an exact ratio of 1:1 acid to base. This salt is then dried and heated under a vacuum to remove water and form the polymer.

In the other approach, a compound that contains an amine at one end of it and acid at the other end are polymerized to produce a chain with repeating units of \(-NH-[CH_2] n-CO-) x\). The nylon is known as nylon 6 if n = 5 which is another common form of this polymer. The commercial production of nylon 6 begins with caprolactam that uses an open-ring polymerization process.

In both approaches, the polyamide is melting and then it is drawn after cooling to get the required properties of every intended use.

In the 1930s, Nylons were developed by a research team headed by an American chemist named Wallace H. Carothers, working for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. The successful production of fibre by chemical synthesis from compounds readily available from air, water, and coal or petroleum stimulated the expansion of research on polymers. It is leading to a rapidly proliferating family of synthetics.

Types of Nylon

There are 8 types of nylon available like Nylon 6; Nylon 6,6; Nylon 4,6; Nylon 6,9; Nylon 6,10; Nylon 6,12; Nylon 11; and Nylon 12. A few of them are:

1. Nylon 6 – Was developed by Paul Schlack. Nylon 6 is made by ring-opening polymerization method.

2. Nylon 510 – This type of nylon is obtained from sebacic and pentamethylene diamine acid.

3. Nylon 1,6 – This type of nylon is made from dinitriles with the use of acid catalysis.

4. Nylon 66 – This type of nylon is found by Wallace Carothers. He patented nylon 66 with the use of amide.

Advantages of Nylon

1)Nylon is broadly in use to make materials from synthetic polymers also known as plastics.

2)Nylon is very helpful for making fishing nets, ropes, parachutes and other types of cables. The particular reason for this is as it is a high resistance fibre.

3)It can be useful to make different types of fabric products.

4)Crinkled nylon is in use to make elastic hosiery.

5)Other nylons may even be in use as plastic to make types of machine components. Thus, it needs to be mixed with wool to boost power.

6)Nylon is having a long-lasting property. It wears well, that is in clothing and other fabrics is a significant characteristic. Other products such as cotton or spandex can also be mixed with it.

7)Nylon has water-resistant property.

8)Nylon tends to push it to the surface of a liquid and thereby it evaporates more easily. Rather than absorbing and maintaining moisture like natural fibres, it resists water.

9)Since nylon is a synthetic human-made fabric, not a natural fabric it must be farmed or harvested from livestock i.e., the material is less costly.

10)Although it may not carry the same aura as merino wool or cashmere, for instance, to get a comparable and compatible feeling, nylon can be woven. As a consequence, nylon clothing is less expensive than other products made from similar natural sources.

 Disadvantages of Nylon 

1)As nylon is fire-resistant, it easily melts. It can also easily shrink and react with moisture, allowing it to be stretched.

2)Nylon is hygroscopic in nature, so even from the air it easily absorbs water.

3)Nylon swells and deteriorates rapidly when it gets wet.

4)There are many components that should not be subjected to nylon fasteners, which involves sunlight too.

5)It lacks UV resistance and becomes yellow regardless of its colour, becoming fragile and rapidly deteriorating.

6)Generally speaking, these fasteners of nylon can only withstand a continuous service temperature of \(121^oF\) or \(223^oC\).

7)Making them unsuitable for machinery or products that are heated when in use, such as those that are used in building.

FAQs about Nylon

Question 1: What are the properties of nylon?

Ans: Nylon is lustrous, extremely elastic, very strong. It damages resistant to oil and many other chemicals. It does not absorb water as it is water-resistant. Nylon dries quickly. It has a dense molecular structure. Nylon is resilient and durable. It is resistant to stains, UV rays, heat and other chemicals. Nylon is resistant to mould and mildew.

Question 2: What are the uses of nylon?

Ans: Some common uses of Nylon are as follows-

  • For Clothing purposes like Shirts, Foundation garments, lingerie, raincoats, underwear, swimwear and cycle wear.
  • For Industrial uses in conveyer and seat belts, parachutes, airbags, nets and ropes, tarpaulins, thread, and tents. It is in use to make a fishnet to grab fishes. It is in use as plastic in manufacturing different machine parts. Nylon resins are in use for food packing.

Question 3: How is nylon produced?

Ans: Nylon is made when the appropriate monomers are the chemical building blocks that makeup polymers. These are combined to form a long chain through a condensation polymerisation reaction.

The monomers of nylon 6-6 are adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine. The two molecules are combined to make the polymer and water \(H_2O\) is produced as a by-product of it. The water is then removed from the production process as its continued presence stops the creation of more polymer.

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