Wallace Hume Carothers is widely considered to be the inventor of nylon and neoprene. A prolific chemist and inventor, Carothers held more than 50 patents. In the 1920’s Carothers became a professor at Harvard and began his research into the chemical properties of polymers.
In the late 1920’s DuPont chemical company hired Carothers to head its research laboratory for the development of artificial materials.
Among many other products, the DuPont team developed Nylon, a synthetic thermoplastic made from polyamides. While Carothers tragically committed suicide in 1937, the DuPont team went on to commercialize his research and released one of the most important fruits of his life’s work – the Nylon product – in 1938. Nylon went on to become one of the most ubiquitous components in a wide variety of commercial and consumer products over the following decades and remains highly important to this day.
Today, Nylon has become one of the primary materials used in sports netting, fishing netting, safety netting, and spectator barrier netting. Nylon is durable, elastic, resistant to tears and abrasions, immune to elements, and has a relatively high melting point (it melts instead of catching fire).
The two main compounds of Type 6,6 nylon are adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine. The six carbon atoms on both components are why the connotation reads 6,6. In 1935, Wallace Carothers produced the exact makeup of nylon used today at the DuPont research facility, never predicting at the time that his composition of nylon would save lives and become a vital component in thousands of useful products.