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Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers, more specifically aliphatic or semi-aromatic polyamides. They can be melt-processed into fibers, films or shapes. The first example of nylon (nylon 6,6) was produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station. Nylon polymers have found significant commercial applications in fibers (apparel, flooring and rubber reinforcement), in shapes (molded parts for cars, electrical equipment, etc.), and in films (mostly for food packaging).
Nylon is a thermoplastic, silky material, first used commercially in a nylon-bristled toothbrush (1938), followed more famously by women's ("nylons"; 1940) after being introduced as a fabric at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Nylon is made of repeating units linked by peptide bonds and is a type of polyamide and is frequently referred to as such. Nylon was the first commercially successful synthetic thermoplastic polymer. Commercially, nylon polymer is made by reacting monomers which are either lactams, acid/amines or stoichiometric mixtures of diamines (-NH2) and diacids (-COOH). Mixtures of these can be polymerized together to make copolymers. Nylon polymers can be mixed with a wide variety of additives to achieve many different property variations.
Nylon was intended to be a synthetic replacement for silk and substituted for it in many different products after silk became scarce during World War II. It replaced silk in military applications such as parachutes and flak vests, and was used in many types of vehicle tires.
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