Monday, September 1, 2014

Nylon – The “Miracle” of fibre

Nylon – The “Miracle” of fibre


          The Federal trade commission’s definition for nylon fibre – “A manufactured fibre in which the fibre forming substance is long-chain synthetic polyamide in which less than 85% of the amide-linkages are attached directly (-CO-NH-) to two aliphatic groups.”
a.     A synthetic thermoplastic fibre.
b.     Round, smooth and shiny filament fibres.
c.      Cross sections can be either –
·        Trilobal to imitate silk
·        Multiple to increase staple like appearance and hand
d.     Its most widely used structures are multifilament, monofilament, staple or tow and is available as partially drawn or as finished filaments.
e.     Regular nylon has a round cross section and is perfectly uniform. The filaments are generally completely transparent unless they have been delustered or solution dyed. Thus, they are microscopically recognized as glass rods.
f.       Nylon is related chemically to protein fibres, silk and wool.

Nylon products
          In September 1931, American chemist Wallace Carothers reported on research carried out in the laboratories of the Dopant Company on “giant” molecules called polymers. He focused his work on a fibre referred to simply as “66” a number derived from its molecular structure. Nylon, the “miracle fibre” was born. The chemical Heritage Foundation is currently featuring an exhibit on the history of nylon.

          By 1938, Paul Schlack of the I.G. Farben Company in Germany, polymerized caprolactam and created a different form of the polymer, identified simply as nylon “6.”

          Nylon’s advent created a revolution in the fibre industry. Rayon and acetate had been derived from plant cellulose, but nylon was synthesized completely from petrochemicals. It established the basis for the ensuing discovery of an entire new world of manufactured fibres.

          DuPont began commercial production of nylon in 1939. The first experimental testing used nylon as sewing thread, in parachute fabric, and in the women’s hosiery.

         American women had only a sampling of the beauty and durability of their first pairs of nylon hose when their romance with the new fabric was cut short. The United States entered world war -2 in December 1941 and the war production board allocated all production of nylon for military use. Nylon hose which sold for $ 1.25 a pair before the war moved in the black market at $ 10. Wartime pin-ups and movie stars auctioned nylon hose for as much as $ 40,000 a pair in war-effort drives.

          During the war, nylon replaced Asian silk in parachutes. It also found use in tires, tents, ropes, ponchos, and other military supplies, and even was used in the production of a high-grade paper for U.S. currency. At the outset of the war,cotton was king of fibres, accounting for more than 80% of all fibres used. Manufactured and wool fibres shared the remaining 20%. By the end of the war in August 1945, cotton stood at 75% of the fibre market. Manufactured fibres had risen to 15%.

            By the 1950’s, the industry was supplying more than 20% of the fibre needs of textile mills. A new fibre, “Acrylic” was added to the list of generic names, as DuPont began production of this wool-like product.

          Polyester’s commercialization in 1953 was accompanied by the introduction of triacetate. In 1960’s and 1970’s consumers bought more and more clothing made with polyester.

          In early 1960’s manufactured fibres accounted for nearly 30% of American mill consumption. By 1965, the manufactured fibre industry was providing over 40% of the nation’s fibre needs.

          One dramatic new set of uses for manufactured fibres came with the establishment of the U.S. space program. The industry provided special fibre for uses ranging from clothing for the astronauts to spaceship nose cones. When the Neil Armstrong took “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” on the moon on July 20, 1969, his lunar space suit included multi-layers of nylon and aramid fabrics. The flag he plated was made of nylon.
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