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Red nylon on a gray background. Image Credit: gunawand3570/Shutterstock.com

4 Uses of Nylon and Their Differences

Learn about the versatility of this material for different applications.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
June 14, 2022
 6 min read
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Nylon plastic, also known as Polyamide (PA), is an engineering-grade thermoplastic. It is used in consumer goods, automotive, electronics, and more.

Even though there are different types of polyamides, all of them are characterized by high temperature, chemical, and electrical resistances due to their crystalline structure. This material is durable, versatile, and exhibits high tensile strength and fatigue resistance in terms of mechanical properties. It also possesses excellent abrasion and friction behavior (while not being the most slippery plastic available on the market, this property shouldn't be overlooked). This material can also be easily flame retarded.

We're going to take a deep dive into four uses of nylon and their differences. Nylon is used for many different applications, but this article covers its use in clothing, industry, fishnets, and machine parts. For more detailed information on Xometry's lead times, machine sizes, and more, check out our capability pages describing our injection molding services.

1. Nylon is Used in the Production of Clothing

Nylon was first famously used for women's stockings at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Nylon's use increased dramatically during World War II, when the need for fabrics increased dramatically. Nylon was used to replace silk and hemp in parachutes. It was also used to make tires, ropes, tents, ponchos, and other military supplies.

At the beginning of WWII, cotton made up more than 80% of all fibers used and manufactured, and wool fibers accounted for nearly all of the rest. By August 1945, synthetic fibers had taken a market share of 25% at the expense of cotton. After the war, because of nylon and silk shortages, nylon parachute material was sometimes repurposed to make dresses.

Nowadays, nylon fabric is used for shirts, foundation garments, lingerie, raincoats, swimwear, underwear, and cycling wear.

2. Nylon is Used for Applications in Industry

Nylon is used for a wide range of construction applications. It can be molded into a range of sheets and films. It is used primarily in sheets, tubes, pipes, screws, bolts, safety nets, plumbing fittings, and more. In addition, custom cast nylon is used for crane pads, industrial hammer heads, and more applications.

Nylon can be easily melted into filaments, making it useful for 3D printing; fibers, making it useful for fabrics; films, making it useful for packaging; and sheet stock, making it useful for CNC machine manufacturing. It is also often used with injection molding.

3. Nylon is Used to Make Fishnets

Nylon is used to make fishing nets because it is a lightweight, strong material and can withstand wear and tear. Nylon has high tensile strength, so it can hold more weight without breaking.

Nylon is also often used to make fishnet stockings, tights, gloves, or bodystockings.

4. Nylon is Used as Plastic in Manufacturing Machine Parts

Due to nylon's durability, lightweight nature, and resistance to heat and chemicals can even be used in machine parts. Some of these parts include screws, nuts, and bolts. In addition, nylon is often used in the electronics industry for items such as circuit boards and electrical cords. Parts made of nylon are typically used in mechanisms that rotate or slide because of nylon's low coefficient of friction. It is used to make bearings for appliances because of its excellent abrasion resistance. 

What are the Benefits of Using Nylon in Manufacturing?

Virtually any industry can benefit from using nylon parts, such as agriculture, construction, food processing, marine, material handling, oil and gas, sawmill, and wastewater industries.

The benefits of using nylon in manufacturing are that it has excellent abrasion and wear resistance, a low coefficient of friction, high tensile and compressive strength, and is a lightweight option that's 1/7th the weight of conventional materials. Nylon can be used to replace metal in manufacturing.

Nylon is also easily machined through a variety of methods.

Why is Nylon Used in a Variety of Manufacturing Processes?

Nylon is used in a variety of manufacturing processes because of its many desired properties and the ease at which it is machined. In addition, nylons can be combined with additives and stabilizers, enabling more specificity and control when optimizing the material properties of various components.

Furthermore, since nylons can be shaped into filaments, fibers, sheets, and films, and can also be used with a range of manufacturing processes such as injection molding, CNC machining, and 3D printing. Nylon is often used for prototyping purposes.

The most popular use of nylon is plastic fasteners and machine parts. It is often commonly used in the electronics industry and nylon is used for screws, bolts, washers and nuts, and circuit board hardware. It is used to make bearings in the appliance industry due to its excellent abrasion resistance. 

Another popular use of nylon is cookware since it has a relatively high continuous service temperature. Nylon applications include spatulas, slotted spoons, turners, forks, tongs, brushes, etc.   Easy to dye, nylon cookware can be color-coordinated with kitchen decor. Nylon cooking tools are also gentle on non-stick surfaces. 

Today nylon is a very common fiber for textiles and it is one of the strongest and most common fabrics on the market. As a result, nylon fabric is used to make many items, including book bags, wedding gowns and bridal veils, backpacks, flak jackets, athletic shoes, ponchos, umbrellas, camera cases, swimsuits, and socks.

For more information, see our guide on nylon.

How Does the Nylon Manufacturing Process Work?

Nylon comes from diamine acid being forced to enter into a reaction with adipic acid. The nylon composition is then extruded through a spinneret with dozens of tiny holes. Nylon immediately hardens upon extrusion through the spinneret, and the resulting fibers can then be loaded onto bobbins.

Nylon fibers are then stretched to increase their strength and elasticity. Nylon is then wound onto another spool in a "drawing" process that makes the polymer molecules arranged in a parallel structure. After the drawing process, the resulting fibers are ready to be spun into fabric or for other uses.

Where Can Nylon be Purchased for Personal Use?

Nylon fabric and thread can be purchased for personal use at most fabric or hobby shops.

Is Nylon Resistant to Heat and Cold?

Yes, nylon is considered resistant to heat and cold compared to other plastics. Nylon 6/6 can withstand temperatures as low as -75 degrees F. Nylon is a thermoplastic material, which refers to how it responds to heat. Thermoplastic materials like nylon become liquid at their melting point, which is a very high 220 degrees Celsius in the case of nylon.

Summary

This article took a look at four uses of nylon in different industries. Xometry offers nylon sheets and rods in a range of different sizes. Visit our supplies page for all of your nylon material needs.

Disclaimer

The content appearing on this webpage is for informational purposes only. Xometry makes no representation or warranty of any kind, be it expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, or validity of the information. Any performance parameters, geometric tolerances, specific design features, quality and types of materials, or processes should not be inferred to represent what will be delivered by third-party suppliers or manufacturers through Xometry’s network. Buyers seeking quotes for parts are responsible for defining the specific requirements for those parts. Please refer to our terms and conditions for more information.

Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.