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Nylon: Synthetic Fiber Becomes a Market Success

Posted on July 15th, 2016 by in Chemical R&D


In the beginning, it was mostly about women’s stockings. As the early 20th century progressed, women’s hemlines were getting shorter, and old-fashioned undergarments were going out of style. What ladies wanted were more sheer, yet more durable stockings that looked attractive while also being capable of surviving the stress of many days at work or nights of dancing. Silk was the favored natural fiber for hosiery, but it came from overseas and could be quite pricey.

DuPont was a hub of innovative activity during this time period, and it put its scientists to work on developing a cost-effective synthetic fiber for commercial use, which kept them busy throughout the 1930s. Before the decade was out, they had perfected nylon for use in women’s stockings – and it was an instant sensation. In fact, the fiber and the product are so entwined in the public imagination even today that women still often refer to hosiery simply as “nylons”.

Check out this Alpha Moment in History to learn more about the discovery of nylon, including how it was created in the lab, how World War II took nylon stockings off the shelf and into the army, and how the fiber is being utilized today.

Do you have an Alpha Moment – any advancement, small or large, in chemical or materials innovation, to share? Please let us know in the comments or via a tweet using #AlphaMoment

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    All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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