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Is nylon a plastic?


Nylon is one of the most useful synthetic materials with a wide range of applications ranging from daily life activities to industry. Nylon is a plastic that can be easily stretched into fibers. It can be easily molded into everyday items and used to create conveniences. We can’t live without nylon throughout our lives. You skip the nylon rug to the kitchen and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner out of nylon bowls. After cleaning your teeth with a toothbrush, the bristles of the toothbrush are made of nylon. In strong sunshine, people will use umbrellas on their heads to go out or protect themselves from the rain, and umbrellas are also made of nylon.

However, do you know where it comes from, what it is, where and where it is often used, etc? Now, let’s talk about the most common type of nylon, is it plastic?

What is Nylon?

Nylon is a generic nomination for a family of synthetic polymers. It is composed of polyamides i.e., repeating units linked by amide links. It is a thermoplastic and very silky material that can be melt and processed into fibres, films, or shapes. Nylon polymers can frequently be mixed with a broad variety of additives to achieve many different property variations.

What is Nylon?

Types of Nylon

There are 8 types of nylon available like Nylon 6; Nylon 6,6; Nylon 4,6; Nylon 6,9; Nylon 6,10; Nylon 6,12; Nylon 11; and Nylon 12. A few of them are:

  • Nylon 6 – Was developed by Paul Schlack. Nylon 6 is made by ring-opening polymerization method.
  • Nylon 510 – This type of nylon is obtained from sebacic and pentamethylene diamine acid.
  • Nylon 1,6 – This type of nylon is made from dinitriles with the use of acid catalysis.
  • Nylon 66 – This type of nylon is found by Wallace Carothers. He patented nylon 66 with the use of amide.

What are the characteristics of nylon?

Characteristics Options
High mechanical strength Nylon has high mechanical strength, especially its tensile strength and impact strength, which gives nylon materials significant advantages in manufacturing mechanical parts, bearings, gears, etc.
Good wear resistance Nylon material has excellent wear resistance, ranking first among all types of plastics. Therefore, nylon products such as conveyor belts, ropes, pulleys, etc. are often used in situations where high wear resistance is required.
Self-lubricating Nylon material has good self-lubricating properties, making it less likely to produce wear and noise under friction conditions. It is suitable for manufacturing parts that need to reduce friction and noise.
Chemical stability Nylon has good resistance to oils, solvents and weak acids, but may decompose under the action of strong acids and oxidants.Heat resistance: Nylon material has good heat resistance and can maintain its mechanical properties and dimensional stability at higher temperatures. However, nylon can undergo oxidation and thermal degradation when used for long periods at high temperatures.
Electrical insulation Nylon material has excellent electrical insulation and is suitable for manufacturing insulating components of electrical and electronic equipment.
Good processing performance Nylon materials are easy to process and can be made into products of various shapes and sizes through injection molding, extrusion, calendering and other methods.
Light weight Nylon material has a low density and is light in weight, making it suitable for manufacturing products that need to reduce weight.Easy to dye: Nylon materials are easy to dye and can be made into products of various colors and patterns through processes such as dyeing and printing.
Good elasticity Nylon material can quickly return to its original shape after being subjected to external force and has good elasticity.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of nylon?


  • Excellent mechanical properties: high mechanical strength and good toughness make nylon widely used in many fields.
  • High wear resistance: Especially suitable for applications requiring high wear resistance, such as conveyor belts, ropes, etc.
  • Good processing performance: easy to process, can be made into products of various shapes and sizes through injection molding, extrusion, calendering and other methods.
  • Light weight: The density is small and it is light in weight, suitable for manufacturing products that need to reduce weight.
  • Easy to dye: Products of various colors and patterns can be made through processes such as dyeing and printing.


  • Easy deformation at low temperature: the hardness and strength of nylon at low temperature will decrease, and easy to deform.
  • Insufficient heat resistance: easy to soften and melt at high temperature, limiting its application in high temperature environment.
  • Water absorption expansion: Nylon is easy to absorb water. When the water reaches a certain level, its volume will expand significantly, which may lead to changes in the size and performance of the product.
  • Higher price: nylon materials have higher production costs and are relatively expensive.

What are the uses of nylon?

Clothing: Nylon is a common apparel option, especially in sportswear. Nylon is regarded as the best choice for sportswear for its high strength, excellent water resistance, good elasticity and wear resistance.

 Car parts: In automotive parts, nylon is widely used for its excellent strength and good heat resistance. Such as plastic skeleton materials, it is the most basic and the most widely used material for manufacturing automobile parts. Nylon is often applied to the engine cover, fuel pipe, and parts of the dashboard.

 Gear wheels:In gear manufacturing, nylon synthetic materials are widely used because of their low friction coefficient and excellent wear resistance.

Bearings: Nylon bearings are very common in a variety of application scenarios because of their low friction force and excellent wear resistance.

 Fixtures: Nylon fixtures are very common during manufacturing and assembly because of their excellent durability, scratch resistance, and collision resistance.

Engineering plastics: In the field of engineering plastics, nylon, as a synthetic material, is widely used in the manufacturing of engineering plastics because of its excellent strength, flexibility, high temperature resistance and convenience of processing.

What are the uses of nylon?

What is plastic?

A plastic is a type of synthetic or man-made polymer that is similar to natural resins found in trees and other plants. Polymers are any of various complex organic compounds produced by polymerization—a process in which small molecules combine to make a very large chainlike molecule. Polymers can be molded, extruded, cast into various shapes and films, or drawn into filaments and then used as textile fibers.

Types of plastic

Plastics can be classified into various types based on their chemical composition, properties, and applications. Some common types of plastics include:

  • Polyethylene (PE):PE is a widely used plastic known for its versatility, strength, and resistance to moisture, chemicals, and impact. It is commonly found in packaging materials, plastic bags, bottles, and toys.
  • Polypropylene (PP):PP is a durable and heat-resistant plastic used in a variety of applications such as automotive parts, food containers, and medical devices.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC):PVC is a versatile plastic known for its durability, flame resistance, and low cost. It is used for pipes, electrical insulation, flooring, and window frames.
  • Polystyrene (PS):PS is a lightweight and rigid plastic commonly used in food packaging, disposable utensils, insulation, and consumer electronics. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET):PET is a transparent and lightweight plastic used for beverage bottles, food containers, and synthetic fibers (such as polyester).
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS):ABS is a tough and impact-resistant plastic used in automotive parts, electronic housings, and toys.
  • Polyurethane (PU):PU is a versatile plastic known for its elasticity, durability, and insulation properties. It is used in furniture, foam cushions, coatings, and adhesives. Polycarbonate (PC):PC is a strong and transparent plastic with excellent impact resistance. It is used for safety goggles, CDs/DVDs, and electronic components.

What are the characteristics of plastic?

Characteristics Options
Flexibility Plastic is highly flexible and can be easily molded or shaped into various forms, allowing for a wide range of applications.
Durability Plastics are known for their durability and resistance to wear, tear, and impact. They can withstand harsh environmental conditions and have a long lifespan.
Lightweight Plastics are generally lightweight materials, making them advantageous for applications where weight reduction is desired, such as in transportation or packaging.
Insulation Plastics exhibit good electrical and thermal insulation properties, making them suitable for use in electrical components, wiring, and other applications requiring insulation.
Chemical Resistance Many plastics have excellent resistance to chemicals, acids, and solvents, making them suitable for storing and transporting various substances.
Versatility Plastics can be engineered to have a wide range of properties, including hardness, flexibility, transparency, and more. This versatility allows them to be tailored for specific applications.
Low Cost Plastics are generally cost-effective to produce compared to other materials, making them economically viable for large-scale manufacturing.
Water Resistance Plastics are often water-resistant or waterproof, making them suitable for applications such as plumbing, outdoor equipment, and packaging.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of plastic?


  1. Multifunctionality:Plastic is a versatile material that can be molded, squeezed or formed in a variety of shapes and sizes for a wide range of applications.
  2. Light quantity:Plastic weighs less compared to many other materials. This feature is very advantageous in the automotive and aerospace industries and can improve fuel efficiency and overall performance.
  3. Durability:Plastic is carefully designed for excellent durability against wear, impact and harsh environmental conditions. Therefore, they are suitable for long-term applications such as building materials, packaging and electrical components.
  4. Resistance:Plastic manufacturing processes are often efficient and economical, enabling mass production and affordable prices. This makes plastic an economically viable option for a variety of consumer goods.
  5. Chemical resistance:Certain types of plastics exhibit a strong chemical resistance, making it suitable for the storage and transport of corrosive substances, such as chemicals and acids.
  6. Packaging efficiency:Plastic packaging materials offer lightweight, customizable, and cost-effective solutions for protecting and preserving goods during transportation, storage, and distribution. They can also contribute to reducing food waste by extending the shelf life of perishable items.


  • Poor heat resistance: Most plastics have poor heat resistance and are easily deformed or melted at high temperatures.
  • Poor dimensional stability: Plastics are prone to dimensional changes when temperature and humidity change, affecting the accuracy and stability of the product.
  • Poor low temperature resistance: Some plastics tend to become brittle and lose toughness at low temperatures.
  • Easy to age: Plastic will gradually age and its performance will decrease during long-term use.
  • Flammable: Plastics are flammable substances and produce toxic gases when burned.
The environmental impact of nylon production

What are the uses of plastic?

1. Packaging

Plastic is extensively used in packaging materials, such as bottles, containers, bags, films, and wraps. It offers durability, flexibility, and lightweight properties, making it suitable for protecting and preserving a wide range of products, including food, beverages, personal care items, and pharmaceuticals.

2. Construction

Plastic materials find applications in the construction industry, including pipes, fittings, insulation materials, roofing membranes, windows, doors, and flooring. Plastic’s versatility, durability, and resistance to moisture and chemicals make it a valuable choice in construction projects.

3. Automotive

Plastics are used in automobiles for various purposes, including interior components like dashboards, seats, door panels, and trim. Exterior applications include bumpers, body panels, light covers, and fuel tanks. Plastic’s lightweight nature helps improve fuel efficiency and reduce vehicle weight.

4. Electronics and Electrical

Plastic is widely used in the electronics and electrical industry for components such as cables, connectors, switches, insulators, housings, and casings. Plastic’s electrical insulation properties and design flexibility make it a preferred choice for many applications.

5. Medical and Healthcare

Plastics play a vital role in the medical and healthcare sector. They are used in devices and equipment such as syringes, IV tubes, catheters, implants, prosthetics, packaging for medical products, and protective equipment. Plastics in healthcare are often chosen for their biocompatibility, sterilizability, and cost-effectiveness.

6. Consumer Goods

Plastic is found in numerous consumer goods, including toys, kitchenware, appliances, furniture, sports equipment, and clothing. Its versatility, affordability, and ease of manufacturing make it a popular choice for producing a wide range of everyday products.

7. Agriculture

Plastic materials are used in agriculture for applications like greenhouse films, mulch films, irrigation pipes, seed trays, and agricultural packaging. These materials help improve crop yields, protect plants from pests and weather conditions, and enhance overall agricultural efficiency.

8. Sports and Recreation

Plastic materials are used in various sports and recreational equipment, including helmets, protective gear, balls, athletic shoes, and outdoor gear. Plastic’s properties, such as impact resistance and flexibility, contribute to the safety and performance of these products.

The characteristics of nylon and plastic in contrast

   nylon plastic
Resistance to effect of heat Can withstand high temperatures of up to 160℃ Can only withstand high temperatures of 60~80℃
Resistance to strong acid and alkali corrosion resistance Resistance to strong acid and alkali corrosion resistance Acid energy is not stable enough
Wear resistance better Poor
Toughness Good impact toughness Weak impact toughness
Strength  Good tensile strength Weak tensile strength
Transparency Good Varies by species

The difference between nylon and plastic

Chemical structure

  • Nylon: Nylon is a polyamide (Polyamide) material whose molecular chains are connected by amide bonds (-CO-NH-). This structure gives nylon unique physical and chemical properties.
  • Plastic: Plastics are a broader category that includes many different kinds of polymers. Their molecular structures can be very diverse, depending on their monomer type and polymerization process.

Performance characteristics

  • Nylon: Generally has high strength, wear resistance, oil resistance and self-lubricating properties. It also has good elasticity, toughness and heat resistance. Nylon fibers are also commonly used in textiles because of their wear resistance and elasticity.
  • Plastic: Properties vary by type, but most plastics have good processability, corrosion resistance, electrical insulation, and thermal insulation. Different types of plastics vary in strength, hardness, flexibility, heat resistance, and chemical resistance.
Comparison of nylon and plastic



  • Nylon: widely used in fiber (such as textiles, ropes), engineering plastics (such as gears, bearings), coatings and film. Nylon is also commonly used in the automotive, electronics, aerospace and sporting goods industries.
  • Plastic: almost everywhere, from packaging materials, building materials, household goods to electronic appliances, medical devices and so on. Different types of plastics are suitable for different application scenarios, such as polyethylene (PE) is often used in packaging and piping, polystyrene (PS) is often used in electronic product shell, etc.

Production methods and processability

  • Nylon: usually prepared by polycondensation reaction, that is, the polycondensation of dibasic acid and diamine under the action of catalyst. Nylon can be made into products of various shapes and sizes through injection molding, extrusion, blow molding and other processing methods.
  • Plastic: Production methods include polymerization (such as addition polymerization and condensation polymerization), compression molding, injection molding, etc. Different types of plastics differ in their processability and molding methods.


  • Nylon: Usually more expensive due to its unique properties and complex production process. However, in some applications, its high-performance characteristics make it irreplaceable.
  • Plastic: Cost varies by type and production scale. Mass-produced plastics generally cost less, but high-performance plastics can cost more.
Recycling nylon

The connection between nylon and plastic

The connection between nylon and plastic is mainly reflected in the following aspects:

Material classification

Nylon is a part of the polyamide plastic. It is not just a single compound, but a polymer chemical formed through the association of numerous amide components. Plastics can be seen as a fairly vast field of materials that contain a lot of polymer chemicals. Nylon, as one of these, together with other plastic materials (such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, etc.), constitute a wide family in the plastic field.

Material properties

Nylon and plastic share key attributes, including lightweight, waterproof and excellent insulation that make them widely used in today’s society.
Nylon not only has the characteristics of high strength, wear resistance and oil resistance, but also shows superior stability in chemical performance, and is also quite excellent in the field of plastics.


Nylon and plastics are widely used in a wide range of industries, including but not limited to clothing, shoes, bags, vehicle interiors, and industrial goods.
Nylon fabrics, for their wear resistance and flexibility, are often used as manufacturing products such as sports equipment, leisure goods, footwear, and luggage; plastics are widely used in areas such as packaging, construction, home and electronic equipment.

Production and processing

Both nylon and plastics are made through polymerization reactions, in which monomers are chemically linked into polymer chains.
In terms of processing, both nylon and plastic can be made into products of various shapes and sizes through injection molding, extrusion, blow molding and other methods.

Environmental impact

The production and use of nylon and plastics will have certain impacts on the environment, such as energy consumption, waste generation and pollution.
However, nylon and certain plastic types such as PET have good potential for recycling and reuse, helping to reduce the environmental burden.


Nylon generally costs more due to its unique properties and complex production processes. But nylon may have a cost-effective advantage over other high-performance plastics.The cost of plastic varies by type and production scale. Mass-produced plastics generally cost less, but high-performance plastics can cost more.

Global nylon market

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Nylon is a synthetic fiber and a plastic. It is composed of polyamide, which is light, soft, waterproof, wear-resistant, and nibbling-resistant. The synthesis of nylon is a major breakthrough in the synthetic fiber industry and a very important milestone in polymer chemistry. Nylon is classified as a synthetic resin, and plastics generally cover all plastic polymer materials, so nylon can be regarded as a kind of plastic. Compared with ordinary plastics, nylon has higher strength and stability. It is widely used in manufacturing various mechanical parts, wire insulators, automobile parts, sports equipment, etc. It is also commonly used in weaving fabrics, making ropes, belts and gaskets, etc.


Is nylon a natural material?

Nylon is not a natural material, but a synthetic chemical material. Natural materials usually refer to substances that originally exist in nature and have not been artificially synthesized or modified on a large scale. Nylon, as an important synthetic fiber, is produced through chemical synthesis. Its manufacturing process involves the polymerization of a variety of chemical raw materials, ultimately resulting in long-chain polymer compounds. This synthetic process differs significantly from the formation of natural materials.

Are all plastics nylon?

Not all plastic is nylon.Nylon (PA plastic) is a type of plastic commonly referred to as nylon. It is mainly divided into two categories: PA-6 (nylon single 6) and PA-66 (nylon double 6). Nylon plastic is widely used in mechanical parts, clothing, and cookware due to its excellent properties, such as strength, toughness, good tensile strength, small friction coefficient, smooth and wear-resistant surface, good fatigue resistance and heat resistance. and other fields. These properties of nylon plastic make it ideal for a variety of applications.However, plastics are a broad category that includes many different types of materials. In addition to nylon, there are various plastic types such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS), etc. Each type has its own unique characteristics and uses. Therefore, nylon is only one type of plastic and cannot represent all plastic types.

What is the difference between nylon and polyester?

There are significant differences between nylon and polyester in terms of material origin, physical properties, sensory differences, combustion characteristics, uses and costs. In practical applications, it is very important to choose the appropriate material according to specific needs.

Which is more durable, nylon or plastic?

Nylon is excellent for its excellent wear resistance, durability, and corrosion resistance. However, its price is higher, and the color stability is poor. Plastics are suitable for mass production and disposable use because of their low cost and ease of manufacture. But plastics are less durable in environments that require impact, pressure, or high temperatures. Therefore, nylon is more suitable for the need for long-term, stable and high-strength use of occasions, such as outdoor equipment, mechanical parts, etc., because of its excellent durability. For disposable or short-term items, such as packaging materials and everyday items, plastics are advantages because of its low cost and ease of manufacture. When selecting materials, they need to be weighed according to the specific use environment and requirements.





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