Nylon's Properties & Uses

••• Greenseas/iStock/GettyImages

Nylon is a man-made synthetic fiber that is strong while very light in weight, properties that lead to a wide variety of uses, such as fabric, rope and luggage.This fiber was first introduced in the 1930s as an early substitute for silk; it eventually became the fiber of choice for women's stockings. Chemist Wallace H. Carothers of the Dupont Company was one of the lead players in the development of nylon fiber. Nylon is one of the most popular manmade fibers used in the United States.

Nylon Production

Nylon fiber 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 fiber with its elasticity and strength.

Nylon Properties

Nylon possesses many properties that make it a very useful fiber 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 specialty laundering arrangements. Nylon dries rather quickly and t retains its shape rather well after laundering, which ensures longevity of the garment. Nylon fiber 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 pants, active wear, windbreakers, draperies and bedspreads. Less frequently encountered uses include flak vests, parachutes, combat uniforms and life vests; the fiber 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 fiber 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 fibers. There are different types of nylon ropes available, such as hollow and braided styles, suited for specific purposes.

References

About the Author

Dianne Christensen began writing professionally in 2003 for the "Muskegon Chronicle" in Muskegon, Mich. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!