The real star of the plastics industry in the 1930s was “polyamide” (PA), far better known by its trade name nylon. Nylon was the first purely synthetic fiber, introduced by Du Pont Corporation at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.
In 1927, Du Pont had begun a secret development project designated “Fiber66″, under the direction of Harvard chemist Wallace Carothers and chemistry department director Elmer Keiser Bolton. Carothers had been hired to perform pure research, and he worked to understand the new materials’ molecular structure and physical properties. He took some of the first steps in the molecular design of the materials.
His work led to the discovery of synthetic nylon fiber, which was very strong but also very flexible. The first application was for bristles for toothbrushes. However, Du Pont’s real target was silk, particularly silk stockings. Carothers and his team synthesized a number of different polyamides including polyamide6.6 and 4.6, as well as polyesters.
It took Du Pont twelve years and US$27 million to refine nylon, and to synthesize and develop the industrial processes for bulk manufacture. With such a major investment, it was no surprise that Du Pont spared little expense to promote nylon after its introduction, creating a public sensation, or “nylon mania”. Nylon mania came to an abrupt stop at the end of 1941 when the USA entered World War II. The production capacity that had been built up to produce nylon stockings, or just “nylons”, for American women was taken over to manufacture vast numbers of parachutes for fliers and paratroopers. After the war ended, Du Pont went back to selling nylon to the public, engaging in another promotional campaign in 1946 that resulted in an even bigger craze, triggering the so called “nylon riots“.
Subsequently polyamides 6, 10, 11, and 12 have been developed based on monomers which are ring compounds, e.g. caprolactam.nylon 66 is a material manufactured by condensation polymerisation
Nylons still remain important plastics, and not just for use in fabrics. In its bulk form it is very wear resistant, particularly if oil-impregnated, and so is used to build gears, bearings, bushings, and because of good heat-resistance, increasingly for under-the-hood applications in cars, and other mechanical parts.
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Wikpedia Main article: Nylon
Nylon is a thermoplastic silky material, first used commercially in a nylon-bristled toothbrush (1938), followed more famously by women’s “nylons” stockings (1940). It is made of repeating units linked by peptide bonds (another name for amide bonds) and is frequently referred to as polyamide (PA). Nylon was the first commercially successful polymer and the first synthetic fiber to be made entirely from coal, water and air. These are formed into monomers of intermediate molecular weight, which are then reacted to form long polymer chains.
Nylon was intended to be a synthetic replacement for silk and substituted for it in many different products after silk became scarce during World War II. It replaced silk in military applications such as parachutes, flak vests, and was used in many types of vehicle tires.
Solid nylon is used for mechanical parts such as gears and other low- to medium-stress components previously cast in metal. Engineering grade nylon is processed by extrusion, casting, and injection molding. Type 6/6 Nylon 101 is the most common commercial grade of nylon, and Nylon 6 is the most common commercial grade of cast nylon. Nylon is available in glass-filled and molybdenum sulfide-filled variants which increase structural and impact strength and rigidity or lubricity.
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