This work shows that halogen-free, flame retarded polyamide 6 (PA6), fabrics may be produced in which component fibres still have acceptable tensile properties and low levels (preferably ≤10 wt %) of additives by incorporating a nanoclay along with two types of flame retardant formulations. The latter include (i) aluminium diethyl phosphinate (AlPi) at 10 wt %, known to work principally in the vapour phase and (ii) ammonium sulphamate (AS)/dipentaerythritol (DP) system present at 2.5 and 1 wt % respectively, believed to be condense phase active. The nanoclay chosen is an organically modified montmorillonite clay, Cloisite 25A. The effect of each additive system is analysed in terms of its ability to maximise both filament tensile properties relative to 100% PA6 and flame retardant behaviour of knitted fabrics in a vertical orientation. None of the AlPi-containing formulations achieved self-extinguishability, although the presence of nanoclay promoted lower burning and melt dripping rates. The AS/DP-containing formulations with total flame retardant levels of 5.5 wt % or less showed far superior properties and with nanoclay, showed fabric extinction times ≤ 39 s and reduced melt dripping. The tensile and flammability results, supported by thermogravimetric analysis, have been interpreted in terms of the mechanism of action of each flame retardant/nanoclay type.
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