ORIGINS & COMPOSITION OF NYLON
Ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution well over a century ago, the textile industry has been looked upon as an outlet for the ingenuity of the engineer, while the chemist occupied a position in the background, gradually coming to the fore with Artificial Silk during the years 1892-1905. In this, the youngest branch of the textile industry, however, the chemist has erected for himself a lasting monument in producing nylon, released to the world on October 27th, 1938, which is a new organic textile fibre derived basically from coal, water, and air, the process being as follows:-
When a dibasic acid and an organic diamine are heated together, the product produced by the reaction is called an “amide”. This reaction results in the formation of relatively small molecules which, when heated, bring about the union of many of these molecules, which form a chain, the molecule of a dibasic acid molecule linking up with a diamine molecule. When the chain is made up of many links, the resulting product is called a polyamide (“poly” meaning many). Such a product formed this way is called a “polymer”, and a long chain of polyamides is spoken of as “superpolymers”. The polyamide superpolymers are known as nylon.
Since there are dozens of different dibasic acids and diamines, it follows that many different types of nylon are possible. For example, if there were only ten different dibasic acids, and ten different diamines, it would be possible to make 10 x 10 (or 100) different nylons. The proportion of one to the other is important. For instance, one dibasic acid with two different diamines, would give another composition. An unlimited number of nylons is, therefore, possible. Some would be quite flexible, others would have a different melting point, and others would be stiff or rigid.
Since we are interested in nylon to be used in the manufacture of stockings, a particular type of polyamide—having the desired