The key difference between nylon and polyamide is that nylon is a synthetic material, whereas polyamides can be either natural or synthetic.
Nylon and polyamides are closely related terms because both materials are polymers, and nylon is a type of polyamide.
What is Nylon?
Nylon is a type of polyamide that is synthetic. It is a group of polymers that includes plastics. We can name these polymers as thermoplastic materials because of t heir thermal properties. Some of the members of this group include nylon 6. Nylon 6,6, nylon 6.8. etc.
This polymer type belongs to the condensation polymer group because of the method of synthesis. Nylon material is made by condensation polymerization. Here, the monomers used in the production of nylon are diamines and dicarboxylic acids. The condensation polymerization of these two monomers will form peptide bonds. A water molecule is produced per each peptide bond as a byproduct.
Most of the nylon forms are composed of symmetrical backbones and are semi-crystalline. This makes nylons very good fibers. The name of the form of nylon is given according to the number of carbon atoms present in the diamine and dicarboxylic acid monomers. For example, in nylon 6,6, there are six carbon atoms in the dicarboxylic acid and six carbon atoms in the diamine.
Generally, nylons are tough materials. This material has good chemical and thermal resistance. Nylons can be used in high-temperature environments. The maximum temperature where nylon can be used is at 185oC. The glass transition temperature of nylon is about 45oC. The glass transition temperature of a polymer is the temperature at which the polymer transitions from a hard, glassy material to a soft, rubbery material.
What is Polyamide?
Polyamides are a type of polymer materials having a large number of repeating units of amide groups. These are high-performance thermoplastic elastomers characterized by their high service temperature, good heat ageing, and solvent resistance. Moreover, these polymers have high modulus and impact properties, low coefficient of friction, and high abrasion resistance. Nylon is the most common and widely used type of polyamide. Nowadays, nylon polymer is among one of the most important and widely consumed polymers in the United States.
Polyamides contain amide groups, which are polar groups. These polar groups allow polyamides to build hydrogen bonds between chains, thereby improving the interchain attraction. This property of the polymer material enhances the mechanical properties of polyamide. For example, nylon contains flexible aliphatic carbon groups in the chain that improve the processability of the material by reducing the melt viscosity. The strength and stiffness of this material are reduced when increasing the number of carbon atoms between the amide linkages. Therefore, the length of the hydrocarbon backbone is a key property that determines the performance of polyamide material. Due to the polarity of the amide group, polar solvents, mainly water, can affect polyamides.
There are two types of polyamides: aliphatic and aromatic polyamides. Nylon can be either an aliphatic or semi-aromatic polyamide. The main applications of polyamides include radiator header tanks in cooling systems, switches, connectors, ignition components, sensors and motor parts in auto electrical systems, wheel trims, throttle valves, engine covers, heat resistant under-bonnet components, airbrake tubing, etc.
What is the Difference Between Nylon and Polyamide?
Nylon and polyamides are two types of polymer materials. The key difference between nylon and polyamide is that nylon is a synthetic material, whereas polyamides can be either natural or synthetic. Moreover, nylon has great resistance against moisture and rain while polyamide has less resistance, and is slightly hydrophobic.
The below infographic lists the differences between nylon and polyamide in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Nylon vs Polyamide
Nylon and polyamides are closely related terms because nylon is a type of polyamide, and both materials are polymers. The key difference between nylon and polyamide is that nylon is a synthetic material, whereas polyamides can be either natural or synthetic.
1. Helmenstine, Anne Marie. “How to Make Nylon in the Lab.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Available here.
2. “2-amino-acidsb” By The original uploader was LukeSurl at English Wikipedia. Later versions were uploaded by DMacks at en.Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.Wikipedia to Commons. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia