The first commercial use for nylon was as bristles for toothbrushes.
This was low quality fibre from the DuPont pilot plant. The marketing
did not emphasise a new polymer fibre was being used.
The development of PA 6,6 was unusual in that it focused exclusively
on the manufacture of one end-product - nylon stockings, which
became available 1938. In the war years, output of PA 6,6 was
increased massively, but it was diverted from stockings to military
uses like parachutes and glider tow-ropes. In the post war years
it took some time before production of nylon stockings could meet
At about the same time a German company, I G Farben, succeeded
in developing PA 6. Like their US counterparts, production was
diverted to military use during World War II.
Different types of polyamide have different properties, and therefore
different uses. In general, only PA 6 and 6,6 are used for fabrics,
but all types are used to make engineering plastics.
The range of uses is huge. Polyamides may be reinforced with
carbon or glass fibre, or treated in other ways to change specific
properties. A new development is the incorporation of clay particles
less than a nanometre in width, but with a much greater length.
These nanocomposites are stronger than untreated polyamide, but
retain properties often lost when other reinforcements are used.
|Stockings and tights,
clothing and other fabrics, carpets. Engineering components, power
tool housings, electrical connectors, combs, fuel tanks for cars,
||Zip fasteners, electrical
insulators, filaments for brushes
|PA 6,10 glass fibre reinforced
parts, electrical connectors
||Air, hydraulic and fuel
hoses, engineering components, tool handles, powder coatings for
|PA 11 glass fibre reinforced
||Watch cases, ski boot bindings, fan
blades, electric plugs, heat resistant machine housings,, high precision
||Engineering components needing low
temperature toughness, sports shoe soles
|PA 12 glass fibre reinforced
||Ski boots, flexible
tubing, sealing rings and gaskets, cable fasteners, soles for sports
||PA 12 nanocomposite
||Flexible tubing, waterproof