Nylon belongs to a family of synthetic polymers (polyamides) and its progenitor - nylon 6.6 - was produced for the first time by the chemist Wallace Carothers on 28 February 1935 at the Du Pont research facility in Wilmington, Delaware (USA).
Although it goes under a number of names, nylon falls roughly into two main categories according to the type of polymer: nylon 6.6 is produced from hexamethylenediamine and nylon 6 is made from caprolactam; in addition to these two kinds, nylon 10.10, obtained from castor oil, is also significant industrially.
The figure you see after the word nylon designates the number of carbon atoms contained in the single or double component of the elementary molecule.
Nylon can also be transformed into monofilament, multifilament or microfilament yarns. The number of single strands in each denier/decitex of yarn has a direct bearing on the sheerness and softness of the end product.
The lustrousness of nylon varies immensely and it comes in an array of sheens: high-sheen, standard sheen, semi-opaque, opaque and super-opaque with various light-reflecting qualities according to the type chosen.
A series of qualities make nylon 6.6 a superior product as compared to any other textile fibre. This is why it finds its way into practically all sectors of the textile industry whether it be clothing, furnishings or industrial fabrics.
Nylon 6.6 POY yarns
POY yarns are obtained by melting the original polymer in an inert atmosphere after which they are cooled and solidified. The resulting yarn is wound around a distaff or reel, ready to be used for next processing stage.
Nylon 6.6 textured yarns
This takes place with various twisting and heat setting techniques which generate a crimped effect making the yarn thicker and softer. This type of yarn has extra elasticity and gives better comfort to garments.
Nylon 6.6 FDY yarns
This is made by an ironing process during which the filament undergoes an irreversible lengthening process; this could cause the yarn to stretch to four times its original length.
Nylon 6.6 Air-covered or interlaced yarns
This is obtained by passing the LYCRA® fibre under tension through a jet of air together with a multifilament or microfilament textured yarn which intertwines at intervals with the core of the LYCRA® fibre.
Nylon 6.6 Single or double covered yarns
These are obtained by wrapping one or two parallel or textured nylon heads around the LYCRA® fibre, according to a set number of coils per metre; the greater the number of coils, the better technical performance the yarn will have.