Nylon was the first of the synthetic fibers made by man, and is considered one of the most important chemical discoveries because of its toughness, strength, elasticity, and resistance to oil and grease.
In the late 1920s and the early 1930s, chemists at the DuPont Company first produced nylon by combining chemicals they extracted from coal, water, air, petroleum, natural gas, and agricultural by-products.
The thousands of nylon products on the market today all begin essentially the same. Nylon factories combine the chemicals that produce nylon, heating them first to remove the water. The small molecules from each chemical combine during this heating to form very large molecules in a process called polymerization.
The nylon then comes out of this heating machine in a flat ribbon. As this ribbon cools, it hardens. Then it is cut into pieces, which are then sent to factories where they are melted and used to make the thousands of different products, including parachutes, stockings, tires, carpets, gears, machine parts, bearings, and furniture, and hair brushes.
Nylon threads, used for fabrics, fishing lines, and surgical threads, are made when the melted nylon is forced through tiny holes of a machine. These threads harden when they hit the air.