Nylon was first developed by Wallace Carothers (1896-1937), a chemist at the DuPont Company in the USA.
The Harvard Professor Carothers and his team produced a preliminary fiber at DuPont in 1927 and worked out chain condensation compounds with associate Julian W. Hill in 1930.
On February 28, 1935, he achieved a mix of penta-methylene-amine, sebacic acid and xylenol. The first successful super-polymer, initially called ‘polymer 66’ and the ‘nylon’ filled market needs.
In 1938 DuPont started the manufacture of nylon-6,6.
In parallel development, Paul Schlack of I. G Works at Berlin-Lichtenberg in Germany developed AB-type polyamides by homopolymerization of cyclic lactams, and nylon-6, derived from caprolactam was introduced in 1939.
Two years later, nylon was introduced to the public and became famous as an ingredient in ladies stockings, which are still called ‘nylons’.
Nylon uses in parachute fabrics and ladies’ stockings resulted from its toughness and durability. After 1945, markets developed for nylon as the first ’ease of care’, ‘wash and wear’ fabric due to the ability to give a permanent set.
At the beginning of the 1950s, nylon was the dominant synthetic fiber. The global output of nylon in 1959 was 421,000 metric tons, of which all but 71,000 tons was in the United States and Western Europe.
History of nylon