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February 28, 1935 – Discovering Nylon

Posted February 28, 2007 8:30 AM by Steve Melito

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the discovery of nylon, the world's first true synthetic fiber and one of DuPont's most successful products. On this day in engineering history, Dr. Wallace Carothers instructed Gerard J. Berchet to prepare a new polyamide from adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine. A former Harvard professor, Carothers had labored at DuPont's Experimental Station laboratory for nearly seven years, discovering neoprene rubber and synthesizing the first polyester superpolymer. The polymer chain that Berchet produced on February 28, 1935 provided good heat resistance, strong wear resistance, and excellent chemical resistance. Each long, strong, and elastic filament contained more than a million molecules, strung together in a chain that could take some of the strain when the filament was stretched. The six carbon atoms in each molecule of adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine provided the new fiber with a suffix (66 or 6/6), but DuPont still needed a proper name for its product.

Although researchers disagree over the origins of the word "nylon", some historians claim that the fiber's first name was "norun" – a clear overstatement of nylon's wear resistance. Alternatives such as "nuron" conjured up images of nerve tonics, while the term "nulon" threatened to infringe upon another company's trademark. Although the name "nilon" seemed promising, there were three possible pronunciations: ni-lon, nee-lon, or nigh-lon. When DuPont finally introduced "nylon" in October 1938, the New York Times published a story called "New Hosiery Strong as Steel". DuPont's rejection of the "norun" name had preserved truth in advertising, but America's belief in the magic of science remained. Soon, the term "nylon" would enter the lexicon of modern life, helped in part by DuPont's decision against registering the product name as a trademark. During World War II, DuPont tripled its nylon production to more than 25 million pounds per year. Today, nylon is used in everything from pantyhose to parachutes to molded plastic parts.

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nylon

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dt35ny.html

https://www.ptsllc.com/nylon_intro.htm

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#1

Re: February 28, 1935 – Discovering Nylon

03/09/2007 9:17 AM

All these days I could have been on the wrong belief which I remember have read somewhere.

This polymer was invented or patented, simultaneously in two places: New York and London. NY for New York and LON for London - NYLON!

So this is a wrong story?

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#2
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Re: February 28, 1935 – Discovering Nylon

03/09/2007 9:42 AM

There are several myths surrounding the naming of nylon, yesyen. One claims that the word was taken from the printing on a New York to London airplane ticket (NY-LON). Another claims that "nylon" stands for "Now (Take That) You Lousy Old Nippons", a wartime reference to the Japanese. There are problems with both theories. As for the first, all of the research for nylon took place in Wilmington, Deleware - not New York or London. As for the second, nylon was discovered in February 1935 - almost a full 7 years before Pearl Harbor.

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