Nylon is a man-made fibre of petrochemical origins. Nylon is the brand name of the Dupont Company, which has now become a generic name. It is also commonly known as polyamide. The fibre comes in varying molecular structure. The most commonly known ones today are Nylon 6 and Nylon 6.6. Nylon 6.6 is produced using two chemicals; hexamethylene diamine and adipic acid -each containing 6 carbon atoms, hence 6.6. This is obtained from the distillation of benzene or coal tar. Specific amounts of the two chemicals are combined in solution to form nylon salt. The nylon salt is then polymerised under pressure, with nitrogen to produce a ribbon of polymer, which is then flaked or chipped. This polymer is then melted and extruded through a spinneret into cool air, where the nylon filaments are formed. After cooling the filaments are stretched to orientate the molecules in the fibre, which develops strength in the fibre. The fibre must be fully drawn to achieve its full strength. This filament is then crimped and cut to length if required.
Nylon is truly a man-made fibre and is relatively expensive to produce compared to other man-made fibres. Therefore, its production has decreased, particularly following the discovery of polyester and polypropylene, which are both cheaper to produce. Nylon remains in production due to its easy dye-ability and strength, coupled with a high melt-point. The fibre accepts the same dyes as wool and other animal fibres and is therefore perfect for use in blends where added strength, resilience and wear-ability are required. Nylon is still used extensively in carpet manufacture. The fibre is a little lower than wool in absorbency. It is produced and marketed under several brand names.
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