Discovery Of Usable Fiber
In 1885, Hilaire de Chardonnet discovered the method of deriving usable fiber from cellulose by chemically treating rags and wood pulp. It was first developed and marketed by DuPont. After the introduction of DuPont in the market, there was a tremendous transformation in the textile industry. DuPont industries started making man-made fibers like nylon. Irrespective of the efforts made by other scientists to make cost-effective artificial silk. Chardonnet is often considered as the father of rayon. Soon rayon started becoming one of the most important fibers in the carpet and home fabric industries.
Production Of Man-made Rayon
Even though rayon fiber is made from a natural substance called cellulose, it is considered as man-made fiber because the fiber is altered chemically according to the requirements and demands of the final product. DuPont was the first company to produce man-made rayon. At that time, silk was considered to be royal fabric and in Yang dynasty, only the royal family had the privilege to use it. After some time, nylon and rayon became a major fabric for making clothes.
Discovery Of Nylon
Mary Quant, the British designer, designed a mini skirt which led to the popularity of opaque tights and the nylon fabric. In 1951, an article from Time magazine mentioned that nylon and rayon had stiff competition. Wallace Carothers was a great organic chemist who worked for DuPont on the crystalline molecule. In April 1930, Wallace and his assistant while working on esters found that there are molecules that have repeated chemical structures. But he ignored this observation and started working on amides derived from ammonia. While working on amides, he discovered a strong polymer called nylon.
Carothers referred to this polymer as ‘fiber 66’. A batch production was made and then it was sent to a mill for further processing. Researchers wanted to see the quality of the cloth. After a quality check, a full-scale production started in Delaware. So the commercial production began in 1939 and the first nylon product, a toothbrush came in the market. The bristles of the brush were made from nylon fiber and the brush was named as Dr. West’s miracle toothbrush. Nylon is an important man-made fiber which has a lot of twists and turns in its discovery.
To know more about fibers and the scientists who made efforts in the development of nylon and rayon fiber, watch the video.