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Any synthetic plastic material composed of polyamides of high molecular weight and usually, but not always, manufactured as a fibre. Nylons were developed by Du Pont in the 1930s. The successful production of a useful fibre by chemical synthesis from compounds readily available from air, water, and coal or petroleum stimulated expansion of research on polymers, leading to a rapidly growing family of synthetics. Nylon can be made to form fibres, filaments, bristles, or sheets to be manufactured into yarn, textiles, and cordage, and it can also be formed into molded products. It has high resistance to wear, heat, and chemicals. Most applications are in the form of filaments in such articles as hosiery, parachutes, and outerwear. See alsoW. H. Carothers.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on nylon, visit Britannica.com.