The story of Kevlar is rich with examples of cross-industry innovation.
In the early 1960s, DuPont was searching for a replacement for the reinforcement steel wires in car tires.
In 1965, they succeeded in developing a perfect replacement. It was new polymer lighter, yet five times stronger than steel. They named it Kevlar.
The scientists who developed Kevlar were solving is a narrow problem. But the journey for Kevlar has since then branched and seeped into a myriad of other industries.
The defence industry saw Kevlar’s application in bullet-proof jackets and armoured vehicles.
Sports industry used Kevlar in bow strings and tennis racquets. Nike used it in their shoes. Kevlar has also been used in racing boat sails.
The communication sector found use of Kevlar in optical fiber cables. It has been used in mobile phone housings.
In the automotive sector, other than being used for its original application as replacement for steel wires in tires, it is also used in brakes and fuel-tank linings.
The cross-industry application of Kevlar has not plateaued yet.
SpaceX used a Kevlar nets to catch rockets falling from space. NASA used Kevlar fibers to make the parachute for the Mars Rover.
The audio industry is now using Kevlar in woofers and earphone wires.
In each of these industries, at some point of time, an innovator decided to look for materials from outside their standard palette and found Kevlar.
This is amazing because we still don’t know which other products in different industries are yet be revolutionalized by this wonderful material.
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P.S. Cover Photo by Philip Blank on Unsplash