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Aramid

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  • Aramid fibers are a class of heat-resistant and strong synthetic fibers. They are used in aerospace and military applications, for ballistic rated body armor fabric and ballistic composites, in bicycle tires, and as an asbestos substitute. The name is a portmanteau of "aromatic polyamide". They are fibers in which the chain molecules are highly oriented along the fiber axis, so the strength of the chemical bond can be exploited.
  • World capacity of para-aramid production is estimated at about 41,000 tonnes/year in 2002 and increases each year by 510%. In 2007 this means a total production capacity of around 55,000 tonnes/year.
  • Aramids are generally prepared by the reaction between an amine group and a carboxylic acid halide group. The most well-known aramids (Kevlar, Twaron, Nomex, New Star and Teijinconex) are AABB polymers. Nomex, Teijinconex and New Star contain predominantly the meta-linkage and are poly-metaphenylene isophtalamides (MPIA).
  • Kevlar and Twaron are both p-phenylene terephtalamides (PPTA), the simplest form of the AABB para-polyaramide. After production of the polymer, the aramid fiber is produced by spinning the solved polymer to a solid fiber from a liquid chemical blend. Polymer solvent for spinning PPTA is generally 100% anhydrous sulfuric acid (H2SO4).
  • Kevlar rope is often substituted for steel cable where its chemical resistance to rusting and lower weight is a real advantage. Because it degrades in the Sun it is often encased in other protective material.
  • In Ropes a casing of Polyester is often used. Because Aramid does not resist live loading well, and can fail without warning if it has previously been damaged, its use is restricted for boat lines. In climbing ropes, it was found that kevlar could be seriously compromised after stopping a fall.
  • Knotting Kevlar can reduce strength by 50% or more so kevlar cables are often terminated with custom fittings to reduce strength loss. Kevlar ropes are not recommended for use over pulleys or flexing applications. It should not be subject to shock loads. Kevlar has been used in a suspension bridge in Scotland and as guy wires for hydro towers.

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