Nylon’s timeline begins with synthetic toothbrush bristles and delicate stockings. The development of this versatile thermoplastic has made it’s way into every industry and lifestyle, replacing iron and lead with plastics that won’t rust or give in to chemical reactions. Indeed, nylon has kept pace with the rapidly changing world of polymerization due to a myriad of applications, but the polyamide structure has diversified into many varieties that deserve their own moment in the spotlight. Take a moment to compare a few of the more common varieties, with each one expressed as numerical variants of the core nylon structure.
The DuPont engineered and patented arrival of nylon-6/6 commercial-grade nylon in the latter years of the 1930s revolutionized the plastics industry. This derivation of the synthetic polymer is the wellspring from which all other types of nylon descend. The thermoplastic is equally popular in commercial industries and household products due to the relative ease in which it can be formed into woven threading and moulded plastic, forms that can exhibit a variety of manageable characteristics. Products manufactured from nylon-6 balance strength and malleability, categorizing the material as an ideal replacement for light to medium metal parts.
Both Nylon 6 and Nylon 6/6 possess similar carbon molecule ratios, as demonstrated by the numerical suffix, but they exhibit different melting and permeability features due to finite molecular differences in their bonds.
The fundamental structure of the archetype form of nylon influenced thermoplastics applications overnight, demonstrating a wildly variable fabrication process that could form dramatically differing products. One manufacturer was spinning nylon into soft meshes for a blushing bride’s veil while the next, a maker of vehicle rubber and ductile plastic, was using the same material to mould sets of toughened tires for farm tractors. Versatility was a non-issue at this point, but nylon could still do better.
Ideally encompasses the properties of earlier variants of the polymer while adding lower water absorption properties. Nylon 6/12 possesses enhanced strength, chemical resistance, and temperature protection characteristics, meaning the material is particularly suited for harsher environments.
Derived from vegetable oil, Nylon 11 is comparable in structure to Nylon 12, but there are several key differences due to that single carbon molecule. Nylon 11 offers greater UV resistance and a lower water absorption factor than its compatriot, but it’s also more expensive to produce.
Each descendant of the DuPont original comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages, core properties that can be seen in chemical specifications tables or described in detail by a plastics professional.
Showing superior moisture resistance and an ability to function at low temperatures, Nylon-12 is another popular industry leader. It finds applications in fasteners, electrical cable insulation, and many other areas where ductile properties must compete with tough environments.