Plastic, one of the greatest inventions of mankind, imagines how difficult and expensive our life would be without plastic. Plastic is actually a general term for man-made plastic chemical products. In the big family of plastics, nylon is the earliest chemical synthetic fiber product.
After the birth of nylon, it completely changed people’s habit of using fabrics, allowing clothing and fashion to evolve in various forms, and practical and beautiful clothing also flew into the homes of ordinary people. In our impression today, flexible nylon is the darling of the women’s world, but in fact its application in military and industry has also set off a storm of the times.
In 1928, DuPont of the United States hired young Harvard scientist Wallace Hume Carothers (Wallace Hume Carothers) to lead a research and development team to create an organic polymer to replace natural silk. On February 28, 1935, they synthesized polyamide polymer compound. After countless attempts, Carothers finally chose to develop this polyamide polymer compound. Carothers named it “polyamide 66” (the first 6 represents the number of carbon atoms in the diamine, and the second 6 represents the number of carbon atoms in the diacid), which is the world’s first synthetic fiber.
Later, when it was commercially produced, it had today’s name – nylon.
Until today, nylon is still the fabric raw material that is often used in our daily life, and the industrial application of nylon is constantly being developed and expanded.
Finding alternatives to Japanese silk raw materials
Before nylon was invented, people’s clothes and socks were mainly made of cotton or silk.
The United States is the world’s largest consumer of silk. The original raw materials came from China. After the Opium War, Japan gradually replaced China as the main country that imported silk raw materials to the United States. The raw materials imported by the United States from Japan accounted for 90%. However, the enmity between the United States and Japan soon affected the industrial chain, and Japan cut off the export of silk raw materials, causing the United States to suffer heavy losses.
The raw materials are in the hands of other countries, which is a very serious threat to the United States. Researchers began to study and develop high-quality man-made fibers. Wallace Hume Carothers hired by DuPont originally taught at Harvard University. After entering DuPont, he pulled up a team and started experimenting.
Wallace Hume Carruthers who invented nylon.
In the summer of 1931, Julian Hill in the team discovered an interesting phenomenon when he took out the molten polyester from the reactor: the polymer could pull out filaments like melted syrup, and the fibrous The filaments can continue to be stretched after cooling, and the stretching length can reach several times the original. After cold stretching, the strength and elasticity of the fiber are greatly increased. After another three years of repeated exploration, the Carothers team synthesized polyamide polymer compounds on February 28, 1935.
In 1937, DuPont commissioned the United Socks Factory to develop nylon stockings. In the same year, the first pair of nylon stockings came out. On October 27, 1938, DuPont’s nylon stockings were officially unveiled at the New York World’s Fair, setting off a fashion frenzy. On May 15, 1940, 4 million pairs of brown nylon stockings were sold out in just a few days after their debut in the United States. This modern product, which is as thin as a cicada’s wing and is stronger and more durable than previous stockings, attracted the ladies of the time.
Star technology in World War II
After the advent of nylon, it was produced into various products, but nylon stockings left a strong mark in history, which is impressive. The reason behind it is the shortage of materials brought about by World War II.
A few years after nylon stockings became popular in the West, the world fell into the swamp of World War II. Nylon raw materials in American factories are preferentially used to produce military products, such as parachutes, body armor, shoelaces, mosquito nets, hammocks, etc. The American army armed with nylon became an army representing the power of modern technology. Later, some commentators even believed that nylon was “the fiber that won the war.”
Up to now, nylon products are still an important part of military products. Among the “military fans”, there is a group of people called “Nylon Party”, which means people who like to collect individual soldier’s equipment, and these equipment are mainly nylon products.
The first large-scale use of nylon in military equipment was during World War II, when the U.S. military equipped the airborne troops with nylon parachutes produced by DuPont. In 1965, the U.S. military began to send troops into Vietnam, where they came to the hot and humid tropics. The canvas materials used by the U.S. military in the past were equipped in a high-humidity environment, and their anti-corrosion and wear resistance were not as good as nylon products. In order to meet the needs of the Vietnam battlefield, the US military began to use nylon products in large quantities. In the 1970s, the Soviet Army also began to use nylon materials on individual soldier equipment. Since then, canvas products have basically been eliminated in the army.
During World War II, factories were unable to take care of civilian goods such as silk stockings, so nylon stockings became scarce and in short supply. To pretend they were wearing nylon stockings, women even started painting their legs with black threads that mimic stitches. Demand led to a service dedicated to women’s legs, which at the time was like nail salons that can be seen everywhere on the street today.
Nylon stockings came out and became synonymous with fashion.
Nylon opens up modern life
World War II is finally over, and people who rebuild their homes have a stronger desire for a better life, and nylon stockings have become the object of everyone’s pursuit again. When the war ended and nylon stockings resumed production and returned to the market, there were long queues at the door of the stores, and there were even scenes of chaotic looting in some stores. Later, as DuPont simplified the production process, the supply of nylon stockings gradually met the market demand.
The field of using nylon is far from just clothing and military. The most common sutures in the medical field are sutures made of nylon. Because nylon is both flexible and corrosion-resistant, some parts of the car are also processed with nylon. Modern automobiles are constantly pursuing lightweight and cost reduction. At the same time, the parts on the automobile need high and low temperature resistance, oil resistance, chemical resistance and certain mechanical properties, and nylon can meet these requirements.
Where the car can be seen – seat belts, etc., are made of nylon. The invisible parts of the car – airbags, brake pads, fan blades, various gears, radiator water chambers, air filter housings, etc., are also nylon products.
The emergence of nylon has greatly reduced the cost of people’s daily necessities and industrial products, and has also brought more possibilities for product innovation. The continuous stream of nylon products on the production line brings people into the real modern life.