Superwoman Stephanie Kwolek: Kevlar Inventor

Impact Absorbents owes a debt of gratitude to a woman you may never have heard of: Stephanie Kwolek. Thanks to Kwolek, we’re able to provide our customers with protective gloves that are five times stronger than steel.

The Dupont Kevlar brand fiber is like something Superman (or Superwoman) would wear: gloves that will not melt, ignite or conduct electricity, and that can’t be cut. Yet they still afford the necessary dexterity for precision work in hazardous environments: our heavy, solid nitrile coating provides a superior grip in oily applications.

Kwolek, who died last month at age 90, was one of few pioneering female chemists in the last century. In 1965, she invented a liquid crystal solution that could be cold-spun. Thanks to its high tensile strength-to-weight ratio, the applications of Kevlar are legion, from bulletproof vests to bicycle tires, sports rackets to smartphones. Poignant proof of the enduring efficacy of Kwolek’s invention: the one-millionth vest using the latest Kevlar technology was sold during the same week that she made her transition.

Kwolek had aspired to become a fashion designer before discovering her love of chemistry, which makes us wonder at the “Superwoman Threads” clothing line she might have created. No doubt it would have been as strong as our protective suits, such as the Tychem TK 640 Deluxe Level A Front Entry Suit, though perhaps more of a contender during Fashion Week.

We salute Stephanie Kwolek for her brilliant discovery, and for serving as a role model for women and girls everywhere: follow your heart, and you might just leave a global legacy.




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