1904 Pyroxylin

Pyroxylin lacquers and plastics served as a springboard for DuPont. They launched the company out of the powder business of the 19th century and into the forefront of the 20th century revolution in synthetic materials. Pyroxylin is a generic name for nitrocellulose compounds that form a film when dissolved in a mixture of ether and alcohol, from which plastics can be produced. Show more

Newest multiple testing machine which examines all finished pyroxylin coated fabrics for resistance to abrasion

To test for color fastness, the fade-o-meter provides the equivalence of two years of heat and UV exposure in 72 hours

In the years before World War II, DuPont marketed a host of pyroxylin-made consumer goods including upholstery, brass finishes, household cement, toiletries and clothing accessories.


Although a cutting-edge plastic in the early 20th century, pyroxylin had been around a long time. During the Civil War, quick-drying pyroxylin film had been used as a covering on battlefield wounds. Further experimentation with the application of heat and pressure led to the development in 1870 of celluloid, the first pyroxylin plastic.


DuPont, seeking diversification based on its nitrocellulose experience, bought the International Smokeless Powder & Chemical Company, a manufacturer of both explosives and pyroxylin lacquers, in 1904. Six years later, the acquisition of the Fabrikoid Company involved DuPont in the manufacture of pyroxylin-based artificial leather. DuPont extended its line of finishes with the 1915 purchase of The Arlington Company and began production of Pyralin, a pyroxylin plastic used in combs, collars, cuffs and automobile side curtains. The acquisition of the Viscoloid Company in 1925 deepened DuPont's involvement in pyroxylin plastics.


DuPont research improved each of these pyroxylin products significantly, making DuPont Fabrikoid the nation's premiere artificial leather and also developing transparent plastics marketed by the DuPont Viscoloid Company. The company also invented Duco, a tough, fast-drying pyroxylin-based lacquer that became the standard finish on automobiles and a host of other consumer products through the 1930s. By World War II, DuPont had used its expertise in pyroxylin to help develop true synthetics like nylon, which were quickly displacing nitrocellulose-based substances.