Throughout history, many inventions that we now take for granted were made possible following a breakthrough, albeit seemingly minuscule, scientific discovery. In this case, IG Farben’s landmark 1930’s patent for Nylon 6—a complex synthetic macromolecule—has been employed for a variety of purposes, ranging from food packaging to UV-absorption. It has most recently, however, found itself the subject of Aquafil USA president Franco Rossi’s interest. The Aquafil R&D team performed four years worth of research and development in exploring new uses for this peculiar compound. And although Rossi’s extraordinary findings have certainly invited accolades on the grounds of inventiveness, the biggest benefactor might be Mother Nature.
“After realizing Nylon 6 could be endlessly regenerable, the issue became finding waste that contained a high percentage of Nylon 6 to be broken down,” a discovery that inspired the abovementioned research and development Rossi explains. This inspired the launch of the ECONYL Regeneration System in 2011, the process of which entails the “un-zipping” of Nylon 6 molecules that then brings it back to its “monomer state” of the solid compound, caprolactam. The result, now, can be transformed endlessly into newly refashioned Nylon 6 “pellets,” absent the impurities of any sort of fossil fuel trail. Put simply, discarded items containing Nylon 6 are recovered from their wasteland afterlife, revived via the ECONYL Regeneration System. The process finally results in the signature textile apparel and synthetic carpet flooring for which ECONYL is known, and rebounded back to the industry anew.
Though Aquafil is constantly experimenting with ECONYL, the product has already manifested itself in differing, colorful forms. Of interior designers, Rossi remarks, “They are starting to step outside the box to create innovative designs that add flare to interior spaces.”
Meanwhile, ECONYL is stimulating the creative impulses in larger industries as well. “Carpet mills are starting to explore their color options more with each collection.” On its own, the ECONYL Global Collection’s palette has expanded to over 130 colors, a feature offered by every Aquafil facility across the globe. Manufacturing industries, having long been after sustainability in products, have welcomed ECONYL into the marketplace warmly. The market is becoming more intrigued,” affirms Rossi, “the demand for sustainable products is higher than ever.”