Forney, Bob, 1927- (interviewee), Plasky, Joseph G. (interviewer)
Forney's interview chronicles the development of a continuous polymerization process for polyester fibers, including the use of the two-step pre-polymerization process, for the prototype at Seaford and the implementation at Kinston, where he moved to supervise the project. Forney also discusses his experience concerning the development of EFT and his work at Old Hickory as assistant plant manager. He also discusses the modernization of Nylon spinners in Wilmington.
Slack, William H., Jr., 1940- (interviewee), Plasky, Joseph G. (interviewer)
Slack's interview details the development of Dacron, during which his supervisors changed; the development of producer-textured Nylon; challenges during the patent process; why the overseas operation went under; and his involvement in shutting down the Orlon factory.
Heafner, Edwin Z., 1936- (interviewee), Plasky, Joseph G. (interviewer)
In his interview, Heafner details the variety of assignments he held including quality control; process development and management; industrial fibers staff assistant to productions manager; business and planning support; site planning; Dacron process supervisor; research, labs and maintenance supervisor for Tyvek, Nomex, Kevlar products; and process safety manager for Kevlar, about which he wrote a book. He also describes a lockout and conflicts with unions in 1965 at Old Hickory. Heafner discusses the significant changes (technology, management philosophy, etc.) he observed over the course of his 42 year career with DuPont.
Bruce, Warren, 1930- (interviewee), Plasky, Joseph G. (interviewer)
Interview details period of incremental improvement in fibers; reporting and technical relationships between plants and hierarchy; strengths and weaknesses of DuPont fiber manufacturing process; and technical details about Dacron fibers, nylon type 90, Nandel and AMP-1.
Sturgeon, Don (interviewee), Smith, John K. (John Kenly), 1951- (interviewer), Oates, Mike (videographer), 302 Stories, Inc. (production company), Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation (originator)
Donald Sturgeon details his work at DuPont evaluating the properties of Kevlar fibers, particularly for their utility in composite structures. He recounts that while the fiber was incredibly strong in tension, it had relatively poor performance in compression. The peculiar features of Kevlar fibers required that Kevlar reinforced products had to be carefully engineered. Initially, DuPont hoped that Kevlar would find a large market as tire cord. When tire manufacturers opted for steel belts in radial tires, DuPont had to find other markets for Kevlar.
Sturgeon further describes his work in developing novel applications for Kevlar. Because Kevlar was difficult to make and process, DuPont had invested an unprecedented $500 million by the mid-1970s. Instead of one large market, DuPont had to develop many smaller applications for Kevlar. Sturgeon worked on developing and promoting weight-saving Kevlar composite materials to the aircraft industry. He was also involved in developing bullet-proof vests and non-cut fabrics. Through these extensive product development and marketing efforts, Kevlar eventually became a profitable product.
Bolton, E. K. (interviewee), Wilkinson, Norman B. (interviewer)
Bolton describes his working career and research in the chemical department, studying organic chemistry in Germany at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, and the company during World War I. He also describes various colleagues during his career. He also discusses the state of the industry during his career at DuPont, both in the United States and abroad.
Wilke, Wayne, 1945- (interviewee), Plasky, Joseph G. (interviewer)
Wilke's interview exemplifies the rise of chemical engineers in the DuPont Company during the "Golden Age of Fibers." Wilke remarks on DuPont's success in Nylon business, the growth of the global business and downturn phases, and his own personal growth and success. Interview also includes technical details about processes and products as well as descriptions of Wilke's experiences working in Germany and Asia. Interview is filled with humorous stories including the annual game hunt on DuPont property in Germany, tipping over in a horse cart with Ed Woolard at the Seaford fiftieth anniversary, and scavenging for "presidential blue" Stainmaster carpet for President George H. W. Bush's visit to the plant.
Wolffe, Robert (interviewee), Smith, John K. (John Kenly), 1951- (interviewer), Oates, Mike (videographer), 302 Stories, Inc. (production company), Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation (originator)
Bob Wolffe details his contribution to Kevlar, which primarily involved working with the aircraft industry to develop markets for Kevlar fibers in weight-saving composite materials. Wolffe consulted with aircraft engineers to learn their requirements and made composite materials to meet the industry's specifications. The first applications were for interior, non-structural uses where failure would not jeopardize the safe operation of the aircraft. Over time, DuPont developed significant domestic and international markets for Kelvar composites in aircraft. Wolffe notes, though, that the most important application was in ballistics.
Wolffe recounts DuPont's efforts during the 1980s to produce its own fabricated composite parts in an effort to move away from being primarily a supplier of Kevlar fabric. Wolffe attributes the failure of this venture to the company underestimating the importance of design and testing of aircraft parts.