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First U.S. Commercial Nylon Fiber Production: 1939, DuPont Company
Current U.S. Nylon Fiber Producers: Fiber Innovation Technology, Inc.; FiberScience, Inc.; Honeywell Resins & Chemicals LLC; INVISTA; Kordsa International, LLC; Nylstar, Inc.; Palmetto Synthetics; Polyamide High Performance, Inc. (Formerly Acordis); Premiere Fibers Inc.; Solutia Inc.; Unifi-Sans Technical Fibers, LLC; Universal Fiber Systems LLC; Wellman, Inc.
Federal Trade Commission Definition for Nylon Fiber: A manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is a long-chain synthetic polyamide in which less than 85% of the amide-linkages are attached directly (-CO-NH-) to two aliphatic groups. (Complete FTC Fiber Rules here.)
Basic Principles of Nylon Fiber Production — The term nylon refers to a family of polymers called linear polyamides. There are two common methods of making nylon for fiber applications. In one approach, molecules with an acid (COOH) group on each end are reacted with molecules containing amine (NH2) groups on each end. The resulting nylon is named on the basis of the number of carbon atoms separating the two acid groups and the two amines. Thus nylon 6,6 which is widely used for fibers is made from adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine. The two compounds form a salt, known as nylon salt, an exact 1:1 ratio of acid to base. This salt is then dried and heated under vacuum to eliminate water and form the polymer.
In another approach, a compound containing an amine at one end and an acid at the other is polymerized to form a chain with repeating units of (-NH-[CH2]n-CO-)x. If n=5, the nylon is referred to as nylon 6, another common form of this polymer. The commercial production of nylon 6 begins with caprolactam uses a ring-opening polymerization. For a detailed production flowchart, go here.
In both cases the polyamide is melt spun and drawn after cooling to give the desired properties for each intended use. Production of nylon industrial and carpet fibers begins with an aqueous solution of monomers and proceeds continuously through polymerization, spinning, drawing, or draw-texturing.
Some Major Nylon Fiber Uses
General Nylon Fiber Care Tips
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