Nylons are also called polyamides, because of the characteristic
amide groups in the backbone chain. Proteins,
such as the silk nylon was made to replace, are also polyamides. These amide groups
are very polar, and can hydrogen bond with each other. Because
of this, and because the nylon backbone is so regular and symmetrical,
are often crystalline, and make very good fibers.
The nylon in the pictures on this page is called nylon 6,6, because each repeat unit of the polymer chain has two stretches of carbon atoms, each being six carbon atoms long. Other nylons can have different numbers of carbon atoms in these stretches.
Nylons can be made from diacid chlorides and diamines. Nylon 6,6 is made from the monomers adipoyl chloride and hexamethylene diamine.
This is one way of making nylon 6,6 in the laboratory. But in a nylon plant, it's usually made by reacting adipic acid with hexamethylene diamine:
If you want to know how this works, click here.
Another kind of nylon is nylon 6. It's a lot like nylon 6,6 except that it only has one kind of carbon chain, which is six atoms long.
It's made by a ring opening polymerization from the monomer caprolactam. Click here to find out more about this polymerization. Nylon 6 doesn't behave much differently from nylon 6,6. The only reason both are made is because DuPont patented nylon 6,6, so other companies had to invent nylon 6 in order to get in on the nylon business.
A family of nylons with their own page are aramids.
|Other polymers used as plastics include:||Other polymers used as fibers include:|
|Polycarbonate||Kevlar and Nomex|
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