Nylon's Properties & Uses

Written by dianne christensen
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Nylon's Properties & Uses
One of the most popular uses for nylon is in women's hosiery. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Nylon is a man-made synthetic fibre that is strong while very light in weight. This fibre was first introduced in the 1930s as an early substitute for silk; it eventually became a popular fibre used for women's stockings. Chemist Wallace H. Carothers of the Dupont Company was one of the lead players in the development of nylon fibre. Nylon is the second popular manmade fibre used in the United States.

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Nylon Production

Nylon fibre is produced by pushing molten nylon through tiny openings in a device called a spinneret; the nylon pieces then harden into a filament after they are exposed to air. These filaments are formed into bobbins and stretched once they have cooled down. A process known as drawing unravels the filaments or yarn and winds them into another spool; this procedure makes the molecules in the filament form parallel lines, which provides the nylon fibre with its elasticity and strength.

Nylon Properties

Nylon possesses many properties that make it a very useful fibre in many applications. It is very strong and elastic; its also easy to wash, and can usually be washed with similar items and does not typically require speciality laundering arrangements. Nylon dries rather quickly and t retains its shape rather well after laundering, which ensures longevity of the garment. Nylon fibre is very responsive and resilient as well as relatively resistant to heat, UV rays and chemicals.

Uses of Nylon

One of the most common uses for nylon is in women's stockings or hosiery. It is also used as a material in dress socks, swimwear, shorts, track trousers, active wear, windbreakers, draperies and bedspreads. Less frequently encountered uses include flak vests, parachutes, combat uniforms and life vests; the fibre is also often used in manufacturing umbrellas, luggage and the netting for bridal veils.

Nylon Rope

Since nylon is heat- and cold-resistant, strong and lightweight, it is often used for making rope such as the kinds used for boat docking and towing. Manmade ropes are typically stronger than natural fibre ropes, which makes nylon one of the strongest ropes available; nylon's elasticity absorbs shock loads that would most likely break ropes made of other types of fibres. There are different types of nylon ropes available, such as hollow and braided styles, suited for specific purposes.

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