Dickson, J.T.

Dickson, J.T.
b. c.1920 Scotland
Scottish co-inventor of the polyester fibre, Terylene.
The introduction of one type of artificial fibre encouraged chemists to look for more. J.T.Dickson and J.R. Whinfield discovered one such fibre in 1941 when they derived polyester from terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol. Dickson, a 21-year-old Edinburgh graduate, was working under Whinfield at the Calico Printers' Association research laboratory at Broad Oak Print Works in Accrington. He was put onto fibre research: probably in April, but certainly by 5 July 1941, a murky-looking resin had been synthesized, out of which Dickson successfully drew a filament, which was named "Terylene" by its discoverers. Owing to restrictions imposed in Britain during the Second World War, this fibre was developed initially by the DuPont Company in the USA, where it was marketed under the name "Dacron". When Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) were able to manufacture it in Britain, it acquired the brand name "Terylene" and became very popular. Under the microscope, Terylene appears identical to nylon: longitudinally, it is completely devoid of any structure and the filaments appear as glass rods with a perfectly circular cross-section. The uses of Terylene are similar to those of nylon, but it has two advantages. First, it can be heat-set by exposing the fabric to a temperature about 30°C higher than is likely to be encountered in everyday use, and therefore can be the basis for "easy-care" clothing such as drip-dry shirts. It can be blended with other fibres such as wool, and when pressed at a high temperature the creases are remarkably durable. It is also remarkably resistant to chemicals, which makes it particularly suitable for industrial purposes under conditions where other textile materials would be degraded rapidly. Dickson later worked for ICI.
Further Reading
For accounts of the discovery of Terylene, see: J.R.Whinfield, 1953, Textile Research Journal (May). R.Collins, 1991, "Terylene", Historian 30 (Spring).
Accounts of the introduction of svnthetic fibres are covered in: D.S.Lyle, 1982, Modern Textiles, New York.
S.R.Cockett, An Introduction to Man-Made Fibres.
G.R.Wray, Modern Yarn Production.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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