Finishing of nylon fabric for antibacterial activity


Due to COVID-19, the demand for antibacterial finished fabrics has increased rapidly. The fabrics not only protect from viruses but also stops the spreading of diseases from one person to another. That is why the number of applications in antibacterial finishing for medical purposes is growing very fast.

Comparing with natural fibers, synthetic fibers have some advancements in medical and surgical applications. It provides good strength, flexibility, hydrophobicity as well as moisture and air permeability. Nylon fibers have outstanding physical and chemical properties.

Some of the healthcare products such as bedding, wipes, surgical gowns, clothing, bandages, plasters must be hygiene and have the ability of resistance to bacteria, mildew, and insect attacks.

Several researchers have worked on the antibacterial finishes on nylon fabrics. This includes a wide range of chemical and physical methods. Nylons are interacted with the chemicals and provides surface resistance to bacteria.

Chemical treatment

Different types of chemicals have been used for the development of antibacterial activity on the surface of nylon fabrics. The list of chemical treatment is summarized in Table 1. Here, it is revealed that some of the chemical treatments show good stability.

The PA6/Ag- nanocomposite treated nylon fabric has stability up to 1 year. The nanoparticles are fully diffused to the nylon surface. The PA6 was filled with a 2 wt% nano-silver which exhibits an excellent antibacterial efficiency. On the other hand, some of the chemicals have low stability due to their only surface treatment. The treated chemicals were placed on the nylon surface and not bonded with the polymers.

Table 1: Chemical treatment of nylon fabric for antibacterial activity.
SL. No. Chemical Name Interaction with fiber Stability
1. N-Halamine Using formaldehyde as a linking agent 3 months
2. Quaternary Ammonium Salts Ionic interactions between anionic carboxylic end groups of nylon and cationic quaternary ammonium salts Up to 50 washes
3. Tinosan AM 100 Using high temperature for entrapped into the fiber       –
4. poly(methacrylic acid) Nylon fiber in a dilute solution of poly(diallyl-dimethylammonium chloride) and capped with the chemical Up to 30 washes
5. Antibiotics (doxymycin) Diffusion of doxymycin into the fabrics Up to 50 washes
6. Berberine N natural cationic yellow dyes Up to 30 washes
7. PA6/Ag- nanocomposites Oxidation of the nanocomposites and a subsequent diffusion to the sample surface  1 year

Physical treatment

Nylon fabrics are subjected to some of the physical treatments. The surface modification using gas plasma is another method for effective biomedical applications like sterilization.

The antibacterial activity of nylon fabric was achieved by plasma treatment or grafting with polymer. A few metal and oxides are sprayed over the nylon fabric to make the antibacterial surface.

A modified silicon surfactant is also used as a coating on nylon fabric (Figure 1). The treatment was carried out plasma technology where the surfactant decomposes into insoluble silanol and two water-soluble products. Mainly, it is degraded into plasma powder and makes linkages between the ester and silicon-oxygen bonds. This study also suggests a long-term antibacterial finishing on nylon fabrics.

Figure 1: Modified silicon surfactant.

Besides this physical and chemical treatment, others studies are chemical modification of nylon fabrics. Using a vinyl monomer containing a quaternary ammonium group create grafting co-polymerization of nylon fabrics. Another grafting co-polymerization glycidyl methacrylate onto nylon fabric makes a redox reaction of β-cyclodextrins or monochlorotriazinyl.

An effective process has also developed for grafting acrylic acid onto nylon fabrics. The modified nylon fabrics also show good results against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.

It is concluded that the above antibacterial finishing on nylon fabric can provide effective approaches than the traditional treatment.


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