But what is nylon 6, exactly? And why is demand for the material so high across a wide range of industries?
Read on to answer these questions, and more, about this intriguing synthetic matter.
What is Nylon 6?
Nylon 6 is a synthetic material composed of two monomers. The first is a molecular chain connecting adipic acid and hexamethylene-diamine. That monomer is paired with a carbon chain.
The digit “6” refers to the six carbon atoms, paired with the six atoms in the original molecule.
This pairing makes the material a polymer. Chemists classify nylon 6 as a polyimide because its repeating units are connective with amide bonds.
Nylon 6 is a thermoplastic. It’s easy to shape at high heat. Then, it becomes sturdy and stiff at more typical temperatures.
Many industries use nylon 6 for its durability. Its key properties include:
- Multi-chemical resistance
- High mechanical strength
- Tensile strength ranges from 9,500-14,000 psi (cast-dependent)
- High water absorption (0.50-1.20 percent)
- High electrical insulation capacity
- Low-friction (“sliding”) properties
Nylon 6 does not resist UV rays. Its fatigue resistance varies.
Utility, Material Applications of Nylon 6
There are many mechanical and material applications for Nylon 6. Currently, designers choose the material to create machine parts that must be durable, low-friction, and resist exposure to oil and chemicals. Popular uses include:
- Guide wheels
- Support wheels
- Wear pads
- Slide bearings
- Cable sheaves
- Gear wheels
- Protective track-plates (for EPA, vehicle tracking)
- Track fasteners
- Transport rollers
- Cutting boards
Nylon 6 is not a good material choice if the product will interact with water at high heat. The material’s resistance properties mostly hold a room-temperature and moderate heat.
Nylon 6 for Engineering
Engineers have studied nylon 6, and they’ve either used or proposed to use the material in complex systems. Research published in the journal Polymers, in 2021, recommended using the material for smart vibration dampening.
Earlier research studied the effect of high-performance nylon 6 filaments in additive manufacturing. The journal Materials (Basel) published that study. The results demonstrated the material’s “remarkably high-yield” strength.
As engineers continue to study the material, more applications will come to light.
Nylon 6 vs. Nylon 66
Nylon 66 is molecularly similar to nylon 6. But, it has a greater number of carbon chains in its structure.
Nylon 66 is both stiffer and more durable than nylon 6. Nylon 66 also has:
- Greater tensile strength
- Higher water-resistance
- Higher melting point
- Greater density
- Reduced wear
Nylon 66 is 33 percent more resistant to abrasion than nylon 6.
That said, nylon 6 is superior by many metrics. Compared to nylon 66, this material has:
- Greater resistance to hydrocarbons
- Greater dye affinity and color-fastness
- Faster water-absorbtion
- Greater potential to recycle
- Greater degree of impact-resistance
Impact resistance and color make nylon 6 the better choice for certain applications. These include the heads of hammers, upholstery brushes, and thermoplastic valve seats.
For synthetic products that require nylon water absorption, choose nylon 6. Tools that gauge humidity often utilize this material.
Market News and More
Learning about new materials—whether it’s nylon 6, nylon 66, or other polymers—is a great way to develop your knowledge base. Knowledge gives you power: the power to make the right decisions for your life.
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