Not just the stuff of pantyhose and carpet fibers, nylon has thousands of applications and uses including automotive, electrical, industrial, engineering, parts and connectors. Molecularly, nylon is a long-chain polymer with reoccurring amide groups. Its crystalline disposition accounts for its resistance to wear, heat and chemicals. Nylon comes in many varieties, differentiated by a special notation system that refers to the number of methyl groups on either side of the amide groups.
Nylon 6, 6 or Nylon 66, as it is also called, was the original nylon created by Dupont. It is also the material that one might typically associate with the term "nylon." This type of nylon is one of the most widely available of nylon materials, used in clothing, tire cords, rugs, rope, automotive gears, hairbrush handles, wheels for skates and bicycles, lawnmower blades and snowmobile skis.
Tough and rigid, Nylon 6,6 can withstand high temperatures. Nylon 6,6 was the first engineering thermoplastic, which refers to its ability to be melted and cut or drilled. It also features abrasion resistance, pleasing texture, color stability, combustion resistance and non-corrosiveness.
Nylon 6 is structurally very similar to Nylon 6,6 and is used more extensively in Europe.
It can be used in adhesives, agricultural applications, automotive interior trim, balloons, belts, bolts, cell phones and cosmetics.
Among Nylon 6's attributes are: good flow and flexibility, high friction, moisture resistance, mold release, puncture resistance, non-smooth finish and vibration damping.
Nylon 6,10 and Nylon 6,12
The addition of methylene to the polyamide results in a hydrophobic, water-resistant product. Typical applications of Nylon 6,10 and Nylon 6,12 may include bristles, brushes, decorative parts, hydraulic systems, insulation, marine applications, printer parts, pump parts and sporting goods.
Nylon 4,6 is an environmentally friendly product, as its original starting material can be made of renewable substances instead of hydrocarbons. Able to withstand extreme heat, this product can be considered a high-performance material. This type of nylon can be found in appliances, electronics, gaskets and under the car hood.
Another nylon which is made from renewable materials is Nylon 11, which though weaker than its more widely used counterparts, is more resilient. It is manufactured from vegetable oil.