Stephanie Kwolek • Kevlar®

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stephanie kwolekStephanie L. Kwolek (1923–2014)

An amazing gal!  Outside chemistry and chemical engineering fields, how well known is she?  Everyone working to make our country a safer place probably knows someone saved from grievous bodily injury through the protection of Kelvar®.  But do they know its inventor?

The inventor is Stephanie L. Kwolek.  She was a DuPont chemist.  In the 1960s an experiment of hers came out wrong but the result was surprisingly interesting.  She further examined the discovery – her team was looking for a steel replacement in radial tires – then told management.  Dupont jumped all over the new material, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Kevlar®, a virtually bulletproof fiber that has saved thousands of lives, owes it’s existence to Kwolek.  Kevlar® is probably best known for use in body armor, particularly bulletproof vests.

While researching the Djembe article, I learned that REMO is using Kevlar® in some of their high tension drum heads!  And sure enough, like lots of Dupont inventions, this discovery has found it’s way into numerous products, from boots, gloves, and clothing, to armored vehicles, bridges, and sporting goods.

Photo Credit: The News Journal/Jennifer Corbet, via Associated Press 

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