AKRON, OHIO - Two polymer pioneers, Waldo Semon and Stephanie Kwolek, have been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, scheduled to open in Akron this summer. Semon and Kwolek were among seven members of the hall's class of 1995, announced on April 21. The official induction ceremony will be held July 22, in conjunction with the grand opening of the hall's new home, Inventure Place, in Akron.
Semon, 97, discovered a way to make plasticized PVC in 1926 while working as a chemist at BFGoodrich Co. At the time, PVC was considered a worthless material, but Semon's innovation opened up vinyl to a world of uses, including packaging, wire and cable,and shower curtains.
Semon's discovery was by accident. He had been trying to create a synthetic adhesive for binding rubber to metal by heating some PVC in poiling ether. Instead, he got Flexible, elastic PVC. He was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1982.
Kwolek, 72, is credited with initial discoveries leading to Kevlar, DuPont Co.'s aramid fiber. Commercialized in 1971, Kevlar is found in bulletproof vests, adavanced compoosites and many other products. She also did important research into liquid crystalline polymer solutions.
Kwoled joined DuPont in 1946, doing textile research. She obtained 17 patents in her 40-year career.