Polyamide – Nylon

How is Polyamide made?

Polyamide is a synthetic fibre often referred to as Nylon. It is derived from petrochemicals and was first developed by DuPont in the 1930’s. Polyamide was introduced commercially in 1938 as one of the world’s first synthetic fibres.

Polyamide Manufacture

Polyamide is made through a chemical process called ring opening polymerisation. This means that the molecules that make it are opened up and flattened. Polyamide is then extruded in thread form as when they are stretched they even out, become smooth and still retain their strength.

Polyamide is created by combining two sets of molecules. One of these is an acid and the other is an amide. This high temperature chemical reaction is conducted in a special machine. To create the compound chemical, molten Polyamide is first formed. This liquid is then forced through a spinneret made up of hundreds of tiny holes, which is used to separate the Polyamide into separate filaments.

After moving through the spinneret the Polyamide solution is exposed to air for the first time. This causes the Polyamide to harden and solidify. Once they have hardened they can then be wound onto bobbins, ready to be woven or knitted into fabrics. The tighter the weave the more strength the fabric will have.

Polyamide is often blended with other fibres to produce fabrics with improved properties. A common blend is Cotton/Polyamide. This produces a resilient fabric that holds its shape well but is soft to touch.

Properties of Polyamide

  • Strong
  • Lightweight
  • Elastic
  • Non-Absorbent
  • Washable
  • Quick Drying
  • Crease resistant
  • Blend able with many other fibres
  • Affinity to dyes
  • High resistance to heat and chemicals
  • Durable
  • Resistant to damage
  • Flexible
  • Versatile

End uses of Polyamide

  • Stockings often referred to as ‘Nylons’
  • Garments
  • Accessories
  • Lingerie
  • Socks
  • Shirts
  • Dresses
  • Coats
  • Jackets
  • Synthetic alternative to Silk
  • Bulletproof vests
  • Parachutes
  • Ropes
  • Fabrics designed to withstand intense forces
  • Toothbrush bristles


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Kelly Mitchell

Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary


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