American Inventions – Nylon

Amazing innovations tend to become commonplace over time in America. Americans and our ESL students alike may not even understand the magnitude of the invention we’ll learn about today. Hancock International College doesn’t have any chemistry classes, so forgive the scientific jargon, but we can’t ignore the impact of what is now a household word… the creation of Nylon.

Acs.org, “In late April 1930, [Carothers and his closest research associate, Julian Hill] synthesized a polyester in the still, touched the hot mass with a glass rod, and stretched ‘this festoon of fiber.’ He had formed a polyester with a much higher molecular weight than before, about 12,000. Moreover, the cooled fibers became strong and elastic when pulled out farther. This ‘cold drawing’ process orients the previously helter-skelter polymer molecules along a single axis. The first synthetic fibers had been created…

A wide variety of dibasic acid and diamine polymers were prepared. One of these, synthesized from adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine on February 28, 1935, was called fiber 66 because each of its components had six carbon atoms. It formed fibers that, after cold drawing, were strong, elastic, unaffected by water or most solvents, and had a high melting point. DuPont chose this fiber in July 1935 for full-scale production…

The market development process set off rumors in the textile industry about the new fiber. DuPont kept quiet until the nylon patent was issued in September 1938. The Seaford plant was authorized on October 12, and two weeks later, Stine announced nylon in a nationwide broadcastat the Herald Tribune forum in New York City, on October 27, 1938. Because of the product’s silk-like qualities, DuPont planned to target it toward women’s hosiery (actually, small amounts also were used as bristles in Dr. West’s toothbrushes by 1938). Sample stockings were sold to company office employees in Wilmington in March 1939, and a limited quantity was sold to the public in Wilmington later that year. Demand was overwhelming. They sold out in three hours…

On December 15, 1939, production started on the plant — the first ever designed for an operation never before undertaken. It would cost DuPont $8 million, one-sixth of its 1938 net earnings. Nylon was a best seller from the outset. The first day nylon stockings were introduced nationwide, May 15, 1940, nearly 800,000 pairs were sold. Seven months later, the company put 4,000,000 pairs on sale nationally. These sold out in four days. The name ‘nylon,’ intended to be a generic designation of a class of polymers, became another word for stockings. By 1941, nylon had captured over 30% of the hosiery market. When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, however, all nylon output was diverted to military needs.”

Full Article: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/carotherspolymers.html

Idiom of the Day

A Bit of a Stretch

Meaning: A mild exaggeration beyond the truth or what is likely the case.

Example: I’m not too fond of taxes either, but it’s a bit of a stretch to claim they are the cause of all our problems.