What Is the Difference Between Nylon and Polyester?

8 May 2014

  nylon vs polyester

When choosing outdoor bean bag chairs, one of the most common questions concerns the difference between fabrics — especially those made from nylon and those manufactured from polyester. While both of these materials are comprised of synthetic fibres and share many of the same qualities, they hold a few considerable differences from each other, including weight, breathability, stain resistance, and colour fastness.

Nylon Overview

Nylon is a group of synthetic polymers known as thermoplastics or aliphatic polyamides, derived from petroleum. Nylon's first use was as an alternative to silk. But its first commercial application was for toothbrush bristles in 1938. In 1940 it was followed by women’s stockings. During WWII, nylon was used extensively by the military and was challenging to obtain by the general public. Today, nylon remains one of the most commonly used fabrics in the world, second only to cotton. Also, being fabric, nylon can be condensed into a hard but flexible solid to be used for mechanical parts, gears, hair combs and other items. Nylon forms through a chemical reaction in a process known as ring-opening polymerisation. The molecules of the raw materials from which nylon forms are in ring form. But a chemical reaction, usually between adipoyl chloride and hexamethylene diamine causes the rings to open and flatten into curly strings that bond to one another. When nylon stretches, the fibres become thin and smooth yet retain their strength.

Advantages of Nylon

  • Highly elastic
  • Durable and abrasion-resistant
  • Resilient
  • Water-resistant
  • Mould and mildew resistant
  • Stain-resistant
  • Easily cleaned
  • Ideal for dog beds

Disadvantages of Nylon

  • Fades easily in sunlight
  • Environmentally unfriendly, not recyclable
  • Overly shiny appearance
  • May generate static electricity

Polyester Overview

Polyester is a term for a group of synthetic compounds that can be woven or knitted into fabric. The most common form of polyester in the fabric is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET is also used to create several types of plastic bottles. So is Polyester fabric waterproof? Polyester evolved in the U.K. in the early 1940s. By the mid-1950s, it had already become a popular textile around the world. Today, polyester is used to manufacture a variety of products. These include textiles, belts, furniture, insulation, padding, tarps and glossy finishes for hardwoods. Like nylon, polyester is formed through a chemical process involving a chain reaction. But the reaction occurs between mono ethylene glycol, purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) to create bis terephthalate. When bis terephthalate is heated, it turns into PET, which is highly malleable and can combine into long, thin and unbroken fibres.

Advantages of Polyester

  • Very durable and abrasion-resistant
  • Resists water, dries quickly
  • Resists stretching and shrinking
  • Mould and mildew resistant
  • Holds colour well, resists fading
  • Easy to clean, may be dry cleaned
  • Recyclable

Disadvantages of Polyester

  • Non-breathable
  • Oils may stain

Nylon vs Polyester

Nylon fabric and polyester fabric are very similar materials. Both are found in outdoor bean bag chairs. Because of their similarity, the material that is best suited for outdoor bean bags is largely dependent upon the buyer’s personal preferences. It also depends on the specific type of nylon vs polyester. The measure of the density of nylon, polyester, and other fabrics is known as the denier (D, DEN). Most of the nylon fabric utilised for bean bags have a denier of 420D. While the polyester used in our bean bags is 1680D. The denier measurement denotes linear mass density. Denier can determine its strength when compared to the same type of material. While nylon has a lower denier thickness than polyester does, it is inherently stronger than polyester on a weight-for-weight basis. However, since polyester is a finer thread, it can weave with a higher thread count to strengthen the finished product.

Which Is Stronger?

Of the two materials, nylon material is stronger, and it is more stretchable than polyester. This stretchability occurs because nylon absorbs a small amount of water while polyester does not absorb any because it is waterproof. Because it absorbs water more than polyester, nylon does not hold dye well. And nylon tends to fade rapidly when exposed to the sun. Whereas dye bonds strongly to polyester fabric and are unaffected by UV radiation. Also, nylon takes longer to dry than polyester does. The durability, mould resistance and ease of cleaning are close between these two fabrics. However, Polyester is recommended for outdoor bean bag chairs because it holds colour longer. Polyester has superior colour fastness to light, making it more suitable for countries with a high UV Index. And it also resists piling, which causes the fabric to fray at the seams. Also, nylon may stretch after several cycles of hot sunlight, requiring additional filling to retain the furniture’s form. We hope we've answered all your questions relating to nylon vs polyester today.

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