Milliken Research

Milestone Products
Milestone Products from Milliken Research

Research was first recognized with a separate organization when Mr. Gerrish Milliken and son Roger, assembled a small group of diverse research-scientists in 1945 and moved them into a small house in Clemson down the street from the tire cord mill along the Seneca River.  From this humble beginning an organization grew to become the world’s largest and most productive textile and chemical research organization of the 20th century.  Research moved around during the first years and finally settled in Spartanburg.  From the beginning, research was important. To date some 2300 patents have issued to Milliken Research. 1,2 According to the US Patent office records, the first application was received June 26, 1946.  During the next six years, applications resulted in 34 patents issued.  The first and many more (at least 50) through 1976 were signed by Norman Edward Klein.

Some and certainly not all of these projects and products are given below, starting with some of the oldest:

Filometer yarn uniformity analyzer – One of the very earliest projects used electronic measurements to measure yarn uniformity.  These ideas were commercialized by Loepfe and Zellweger Uster of Switzerland for world-wide use.

Magnetic wire recording – Before there was magnetic tape for storage of computer data, a device was built to store information on ferromagnetic wire.  Later, this technology was used to randomly insert decorative slubs in fabrics. USP 2638731 (1953) Filed May 1, 1948 Norman E. Klein. Control System

Yarn handling – two for one twisting and special yarn cradle designs were patented by Norman Klein, one of the most prolific inventors in the company.  These ideas for Whirlwind Two-for-One Twister and Rocket Two-for-One Twister led to commercialization as Warner-Swasey Whirlwind Twisters and Volkmann Two-for-One Twisters. USP 2549821 (1951) Filed Oct. 2, 1947 Norman E. Klein Double-Twist Twisting Mechanism

Acrylic yarn dyeing – DuPont developed a monopolymer acrylic fiber that proved to be almost nondyeable.  Co- operative work with DuPont, Deering Milliken research, Abbeville and Excelsior Mills, and Gaston County Dyeing Machine Company resulted in a co-polymer trade named Orlon that was a huge commercial success for Milliken as Lorette 55%spun acrylic/ 45% wool woven fabrics for Womenswear. Life Magazine ad Aug 3 1953

Millium coat lining fabrics.  A joint project with the Rand Corporation saw the application of aluminum particles to rayon fabrics that proved to be quite useful as a heat shield for winter coat fabrics.

Visa 55% Dacron / 45% wool easy care fabrics.  Intimate blends of DuPont’s polyester fiber with wool followed by heat-setting gave stability to blended suiting and trouser fabrics. 1952

Agilon edge-crimped textured nylon –a product was needed to help give lasting shape and recovery to nylon hosiery knit structures.  Dare Bollinger and Norman Klein developed edge-crimping. This technology and false-twist setting competed for market share. USP 2919534 (1960) Edgar Dare Bollinger and Norman E. Klein Improved Textile Materials and Methods and Apparatus for Preparing the Same.

Waistband stiffener – as America’s waists expanded a product was needed to help prevent trouser waist bands from rolling over. USP 4244199 (1981) Filed Jul 5, 1979. Werner Rhode.

Belfast Self Ironing 100 % Cotton Fabrics wet cross-linked with epi-chlorohydrin under the direction of Dmitry M. Gagarine provided desirable flat memory characteristics.  USP 2 985 501 (1961)  Later, cross-linking with DMDHEU and acid catalysts replaced Belfast. Later, Gagarine would be awarded the 1978 AATCC Olney Award for his research.

Visa Soil-Release Finish for easy care polyester – Mr. Milliken made the decision to put Visa on all polyester fabrics and not increase the price of the fabric.  That decision enabled Milliken to establish itself as the leader of 100% textured polyester fabrics in woven and double knits. The lead chemist was Francis W. (Frank) Marco. USP 4131 550 (1978).

Versatint fugitive colorants- synthetic fibers of various deniers and structures are nearly impossible to differentiate with the naked eye.  A line of polymeric colorants was developed that would easily rinse off fibers during finishing.  2,690,953 (1950) Other end uses, e.g., added to chemical sprays for golf courses to assist in application to greens using the trade name Blazon and Bullseye. Hans H. Kuhn was awarded the 1997 Olney Award by AATCC partially in recognition for this work.

Millitron Ink-Jet Carpet Printing – traditional screen printing required enormous investment in screens devoted to one pattern.  Wedding ink-jet technology and computer-control enabled tufted carpet printing with specialized designs and zero fixed inventory of screens. In recognition of his work William H. (Bill) Stewart, Jr.  was awarded the 1998 AATCC Millson Award for invention. USP 3942342  (1976) with Norman E. Klein Apparatus for Dyeing and Printing Materials.

Synbond Ter-Polymer Synthetic Rubber.  An essential ingredient in processing of tire cord.   Its success assured the growth of the Chemical Business.

  • Automatic Diaper Machine
  • DM Cradle for spinning
  • DMAS Size for Acetate Yarn
  • Millitex Computer Controlled Patterning for fabrics
  • Laura Computer Controlled Patterning for fabrics
  • Camellia Open End Slub Yarn
  • Z44 Intermittent Textured Yarn
  • Courtney Upholstery Fabric from Z44 yarn
  • Wool Chlorination for washability
  • Wedlock filament-spun yarn combination 
  • Automatic Spindle Doffer licensed to Whiten Machine Works
  • Heavy Denier Agilon yarn for carpets licensed to Rohm and Haas
  • Mazet high bulk acrylic knitting yarn 1950s trade name



  1. Waldemar R. Kuenzel, Exec. Mgr., Fabric Development Dept., Deering Milliken & Co., “Progress in Textile Technology,” American Dyestuff Reporter, Sep 22, 1947, p212-214.
  2.  (Noted 2300 patents issued in this article.)