Tags: kevlar | inventor | dies | stephanie kwolek

Kevlar Inventor Stephanie Kwolek Dies at 90; Created the Strong Fibers

By    |   Friday, 20 Jun 2014 04:59 PM

Stephanie Kwolek, the woman who invented the fibers that make up Kevlar body armor, has died at age 90 at a Wilmington, Delaware, hospital.

Stephanie Kwolek was a chemist at DuPont in the mid-1960s when she invented a liquid crystalline solution that could create the strong fibers that are used in protective equipment. Kwolek received international acclaim for her research and won the 1996 National Medal of Technology.

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Kevlar is five times stronger than steel, and today is used in many things besides body armor because it bends without shattering and lowers vibration.

When Kwolek made the discovery, she was working on a product to strengthen radial tires.

In a 2007 interview, Kwolek told the Wilmington News Journal that DuPont management "didn't fool around. They immediately assigned a whole group to work on different aspects. ... It was very exciting, let me tell you."

"When you think about what she has done, it's incredible. There's literally thousands and thousands of people alive because of her," Ron McBride, former manager of the Kevlar Survivors' Club, a not-for-profit partnership between DuPont and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told the News Journal. The group reports 3,200 lives saved because of Kevlar body armor.

Kwolek became a chemist at a time when not many women entered the field. Kwolek's friend Rita Vasta told The Associated Press her friend made an effort to speak to encourage girls to pursue science careers.

"Whenever she had an opportunity to speak to teen girls or little girls, she used all that time to talk about her career in science and say it was important for women to go into science," Vasta said.

The announcement of Kwolek’s death came just two days after DuPont put out a news release saying the company had made its one millionth vest made with Kevlar XP, a version of the product that came out in 2008.

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Stephanie Kwolek, the woman who invented the fibers that make up Kevlar body armor, has died at age 90 at a Wilmington, Delaware, hospital.
kevlar, inventor, dies, stephanie kwolek
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2014-59-20
Friday, 20 Jun 2014 04:59 PM
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