Difference Between Nylon and Teflon

Nylon vs Teflon

Nylon and Teflon (PTFE) are two of the most extensively used synthetic polymeric materials with some difference between them. Nylon is a polyamide produced by reacting an amine with a dicarboxylic acid. Teflon is produced by the polymerization of tetrafluoroethylene (F2-C = C-F2). Both Teflon and Nylon are thermoplastics with so many industrial applications. This article focuses on their differences including other unique physical and chemical properties of Teflon and Nylon.

What is Nylon

Nylon is an aliphatic polymer, a polyamide that is most widely used in many industries. Nylons are thermoplastics. It is used as a bearing, as well as a wear material. The most frequent usage of nylon is as a replacement for bronze, brass, steel, and aluminum. In addition, it can be used as an alternative material for wood, plastics, and rubber too.

Nylon is a silky material that was first produced by Wallace Carothers in 1935. Nylons are produced from the reaction of hexamethylenediamine with adicarboxylic acid (1:1 ratio) in the presence of water, in a reactor.

Difference Between Nylon and Teflon
Nylon fibers are used to produce bridal veils, strings in musical instruments, carpets, pipes, tents, and clothing materials. The solid form of nylon is also used in some industries to produce combs and mechanical parts including gears and machine screws. Extrusion, casting, and injection molding are the techniques used to produce engineering grade nylons.

What is Teflon?

Teflon is a synthetic fluoropolymer that is also known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). It is an accidently discovered material by a Dupont chemist, Dr. Roy Plunkett in 1960, when he was working on finding an alternative material for cooling purposes.

It has a numerous number of commercial uses due to its unique physical and chemical properties. It is a hydrophobic material. Therefore, neither water nor solutions containing water can wet the Teflon surfaces. Teflon is widely used in non-stick cooking pans as a coating. This is also used as a lubricant since it reduces the friction. The bonding structure of PTFE is very stable; therefore, it has a low chemical reactivity and a high boiling point. In addition, it has a good electrical conductivity. Teflon is a thermoplastic material, which means its properties changes when it is heated or cooled. PTFE possesses all these useful properties due to its molecular structure.

 Nylon vs Teflon

What is the difference between Nylon and Teflon?

• The chemical elements present in the nylon polymer are Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen,  and Nitrogen. Teflon contains Carbon and Fluorine only.

• Both nylon and Teflon have intramolecular forces, where that of nylon is “hydrogen bonds” and that of Teflon is “London dispersion forces.”

• The monomer (repeating unit) of nylon is (-NH-[CH2]5-CO-) and that of Teflon is (-F2-C-C-F2).

• Nylon is a hydrophilic material whereas Teflon is a hydrophobic material.


Nylon vs Teflon

Nylon and Teflon are manmade synthetic polymers that are most widely used in the polymer industry. Nylon is a polyamide and Teflon is a fluoro polymer. Both of them possess a high molecular weight and they are thermoplastics. Teflon is a water phobic, chemically less reactive material with a high electric conductivity, and a very low coefficient of friction. Nylon is a silky material and it is an alternative for both metals and non-metals, including brass, bronze, wood, plastics, and rubber.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Reaction scheme of the condensation polymerization of dicarboxylic acid and diamine via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Ball-and-stick model of a perfluorodecyl chain, -C10F21 via Wikicommons (Public Domain)