Joseph Clois Shivers Jr.
Pictured in the Chanticleer 1942
, Duke University yearbook
(November 29, 1920 – September 1, 2014) was an American textile chemist who was based in West Chester, Pennsylvania
, best known for his role in the structural development of Spandex
, a thermoplastic elastomer, in the 1950s, while employed at DuPont
Shivers was born in 1920 in Marlton, New Jersey
. He received his B.Sc.
(in organic chemistry) from Duke University
in the 1940s. During the course of the war, still as a student, he did work with the United States government to develop a drug to counter malaria
for use for troops overseas. Shivers began working for DuPont
in 1946 as a researcher on developing polymers. After working on other polyester projects, Shivers joined a project to synthesize a "synthetic elastomer to replace rubber", which was common in garments at the time. Though the project was shelved at a point, Shivers made a breakthrough in the 1950s when he attempted a modification of the polyester Dacron
, which produced a stretchy fibre that could withstand heat, be spun into filaments, and stretch 5 times its original length while retaining elasticity. The results were favourable and Shivers, along with other employees set out to perfect the new polyester. In 1959 it was completed and released under the name Fibre K, later changed to Lycra
. He was promoted to supervisor after the breakthrough. It was commercialized by DuPont in 1962 and is widespread in use in the garment industry, including sports garments, swimsuits, hosiery and undergarments. By the early 1990s, Lycra was one of the most lucrative facets of the synthetic fibre department at Dupont. Shivers was also on the faculty of Canisius College
while working at DuPont. He retired from DuPont in 1980, as technical director of the fibres department. Read more...