George S. Nalle Jr., a Plastics Hall of Fame member whose company brought nonwoven plastic netting to the United States market and became a force in kidney dialysis, died Sept. 18 at his home in Austin, Texas. He was 83.
Nalle, known as ``Tex,'' died from complications resulting from prostate cancer, according to his son, Alan W. Nalle Sr. He said his father had been in poor health for the past two years.
Nalle Plastics Inc. in Austin played a key role in plastic netting. Nalle's process used a pair of concentric, counter-rotating dies at right angles to the extruder. Whenever the die holes crossed each other, the hot filaments joined, forming the net.
The resulting product, Naltex, found uses in everything from blood dialysis machines to the common mesh onion bag.
``Our business was built on the artificial kidney,'' said Allan Nalle. Nonwoven plastic replaced woven, stainless-steel netting. The netting was used to support membranes in dialysis machines to purify blood.
In a Plastics News profile published when he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1997, Nalle said he initially was trying to make plastic mosquito netting, but it didn't work.
His son said Nalle attended a European trade show where he saw a product called NetLon, developed by British inventor F. Brian Mercer. ``My father's entry into the extruded net business was following NetLon,'' he said.
Nalle patented the Naltex process, using the first three letters of his last name and the first three letters from the state of Texas. Naltex still is a product of the company, which after several changes in ownership and a merger is called DelStar Technologies Inc. in Austin.
But Nalle's interest in plastics began long before his netting days, back during World War II. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corp a few days before Pearl Harbor was attacked. ``His entire life was formed by World War II, and the same goes for his entire generation,'' his son said.
Nalle was assigned to work on the wind tunnel at what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio. There, he met and, in 1943 married, Anne Byrd.
After the war ended, Nalle was assigned to a team sent to study Germany's plastics industry. The project resulted in the 1946 book German Plastics Practice.
In 1946, backed by his father, George S. Nalle Sr., George Jr. started Nalle Plastics. They bought Reed injection presses. Using his contacts, Nalle brought over German mold makers.
Early innovations were spring-hinged plastic clothespins and hooks to hold shower curtains to the rod.
Nalle Plastics started making netting in the 1960s. In addition to its use in kidney machines, the plastic netting was used to protect newly planted trees. The semiconductor industry used it to produce ion-free water.
Earl Dumitru, who nominated Nalle to the Plastics Hall of Fame, got to know him at the Central Texas Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
He said his friend was a good public speaker who had a lively sense of humor. ``He was a courtly, attentive Southern gentleman,'' he said.