50th anniversary for DuPont’s versatile Tyvek

Tyvek garments in use during the Ebola crisis in Africa. DuPont photo.

DuPont Tyvek is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Perhaps best known as a home wrapping material, Tyvek is also used in a wide variety of industries as a lightweight, versatile protective material.

The story of Tyvek began in 1955 when DuPont researcher Jim White made a chance discovery at the Experimental Station of a new fiber source. A program to develop the new material was set up and a year later DuPont submitted a patent proposal for strong yarn linear polyethylene.


It took several more years for research teams to perfect the complex manufacturing process, which was based on the flash-spinning technology invented by DuPont scientist Herbert Blades, who did similar groundbreaking work in manufacturing Kevlar.

Tyvek provides sterile medical packaging.

In 1965, the new engineered sheet structure was registered under the trademark name Tyvek, and two years later DuPont began commercial production at its plant in Virginia.

Tyvek led to new categories of products, such as house wrap, which helped revolutionize home construction; personal protective apparel, medical device technology and even tough, light mailing envelopes.

“We are proud of the role Tyvek® has played during the past 50 years in making a world of greater good possible,” said Christian Marx, global business director for DuPont Tyvek. “From helping to protect medical personnel during the West Africa Ebola crisis, to serving as a weather barrier for the pavilion housing the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia along with countless homes and commercial buildings around the globe, to helping protect the health of millions of patients around the world by maintaining the sterility of medical devices and supplies, Tyvek provides the trusted protection people need to accomplish bigger things.”

Tyvek is breathable, yet resistant to water, abrasion, bacterial penetration and aging with fewer chances for moisture damage caused by water buildup.

Tyvek garmentsproviding superior protection for workers in industrial and cleanroom applications as well as first responders. Companies worldwide use more than 200 million Tyvek garments each year.

Tyvek garments have been used to support emergency response efforts across the globe, including the U.S. Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup; the Japan 2011 tsunami cleanup and Fukushima nuclear plant remediation; and for the protection of workers in West Africa in addressing the Ebola crisis.

“We are committed to innovation in the development of protective apparel garments and accessories, and we are launching several new products in our Tyvek® and Tychem® product range in 2017 to meet market needs,” said David Domnisch, global marketing manager for Tyvek® Protective Apparel.

Beyond protecting homes and workers, Tyvek is also widely used to help protect patients in healthcare settings. It is widely used in packaging of sterile devices.

A more recent use has come in underlayment for roofing.

Tyvek is now part of DuPont Protection Solutions.

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