Let’s talk about the ‘‘World’s Strongest Fiber”, Dyneema!
In 1968, chemist Dr. Albert Pennings managed to pull some wispy threads from the stirring rods in his beaker. He found it impossible to pull the strands apart. Excited, he rushed to tell his boss’s, which responded: “Fiber? If I wanted a fiber I would pick up the phone and order some! Stop with this nonsense!”.
It was the discovery of the ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber, later branded as Dyneema!
This outburst set the tone for a decades-long ride to bring Dyneema to the market. The journey would involve multiple co-inventors, dismissive managers, happy accidents, quantum technological leaps, commercial innovations, and a few experiments that under current regulations would be considered safety violations. Fast-forward to 2021, Dyneema is a market leader in offering solutions for high-performance ropes, body armor, safety gloves, and medical applications.
The use of Dyneema has produced many iconic images: upturning the stranded cruise ship Costa Concordia in Italy and placing the crown on the Freedom Tower in NYC!
Amazing to see how fiber technology has evolved during the last decades, isn’t it?