Nylon is the most useful synthetic material with applications varying from daily life activities to industries. It is a plastic which can be drawn into fibers or molded into daily products for making amenities. We can live our entire life with nylon on our side. You hop across the nylon carpet to the kitchen, eat your breakfast on a nylon bowl after cleaning your teeth with a toothbrush whose bristles are made of nylon. A nylon umbrella over your head is used to move out of the house in heavy sunlight or to keep out of the rain.

The Science of Nylon

The term nylon points towards a polymer family known as linear polyamides. There are two approaches to making nylon for fiber applications. In the first approach, the molecules that consist of an acidic group (COOH) on every end react with molecules that contain amine (NH2) groups at each end. The resulting nylon gets a name based on the number of carbon atoms that separate two amines and two acidic groups. Hence nylon 6,6 is widely used as fibers made from adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine.

Nylon - 6,6

Nylon – 6,6

The salt which is formed by two compounds is known as nylon that has an exact ratio of 1:1 acid to base. This salt is dried and then heated under vacuum to remove water and form the polymer.

In the other approach, a compound that contains an amine at one end and acid at the other are polymerized to produce a chain with repeating units of (-NH-[CH2]n-CO-)x. The nylon is referred as nylon 6 if n = 5 which is another common form of this polymer. The commercial production of nylon 6 starts with caprolactam that use an open-ring polymerization.

In both the approaches, the polyamide is melt and drawn after cooling to obtain the desired properties of every intended use.

Nylon Characteristics

  • Lustrous
  • Elastic
  • Very strong
  • Damage resistant to oil and many chemicals
  • Resilient

Uses of Nylon Fiber

  • Clothing – Shirts, Foundation garments, lingerie, raincoats, underwear, swimwear and cycle wear.
  • Industrial uses – Conveyer and seat belts, parachutes, airbags, nets and ropes, tarpaulins, thread, and tents.

Learn more about Nylon and other polymers¬†and their uses on our app- Byju’s The Learning App.

Practise This Question

Which one of the following is used to make non-stick cookware