Michael Somerville Withers papersCreation: circa 1950s-1970s
Michael Somerville Withers (1926-1985) was a mechanical engineer and an inventor. He worked at the DuPont Company from 1953 to 1983. Withers is the holder/co-holder of fourteen United States patents for plastic laminates and heat exchangers. Withers's papers document his career with the DuPont Company on plastic laminates, heat exchangers, and seal rings. The papers are organized into seven series: Sabine River Works; Experimental Station; Nafion Laminator; Heat exchangers/heaters; Vespel seal rings; Pneumatic tension device; and Trade catalogs, pamphlets, and articles.
- Creation: circa 1950s-1970s
3 Linear Feet
Michael Somerville Withers (1926-1985) was a mechanical engineer and an inventor. He earned his master's degree in mechanical engineering from Cambridge University, United Kingdom. He began working at the DuPont Company in 1953 at the Sabine River Plant in Orange, Texas. From May 1960 until July 1961, he worked at the Parkesburg, West Virginia, plant before being transferred to the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware, where he remained until his retirement in 1983, with brief assignments in Newport, Delaware, in 1963 and Pencader, Delaware, in 1983. He retired on October 31, 1983, due to ill health. Withers died on June 24, 1985, of congestive heart failure. Withers is the holder/co-holder of fourteen United States patents for plastic laminates and heat exchangers.
Scope and Contents
Michael Somerville Withers's papers document his career with the DuPont Company on plastic laminates, heat exchangers, and seal rings. The papers are organized into seven series: Sabine River Works; Experimental Station; Nafion Laminator; Heat exchangers/heaters; Vespel seal rings; Pneumatic tension device; and Trade catalogs, pamphlets, and articles.
The Sabine River Works (SRW) series consists of Wither's papers during his time at the works; the papers focus on fittings, valves, cylinders, pressure gauges, and spring washers. There is an SRW informational booklet; SRW thermodynamics DuPont course materials; and technical drawings for an "Alathon" injection pump and piston plunger seal, methanol compressors, and oscillating die extruder. These materials date from 1953 to 1960. The Experimental Station series contains administrative and personal materials related to company organization and procedures, as well as a DuPont map of locations and plant sites. There are two staff group portraits from 1979 and 1983 and Withers's professional registration with Delaware in 1958.
The Nafion Laminator series documents the construction of the vacuum laminator with a combined continuous sheet of Nafion with a reinforcing fabric by using heat and vacuum. Nafion is a brand name for a synthetic fluorocarbon polymer with ionic properties. Several technical drawings, patent applications, engineering notes, memorandum, and reports are included. There are a few photographs. The materials in this series date from 1961 to 1982. The heat exchangers/heaters series reflects Wither's work on heat exchangers for industrial, automotive, and domestic uses. There are engineering notes, patents, memoranum, photographs, product catalogs, and pamphlets of heat exchangers, automobile radiators, and solar heating. The materials date from 1960 to 1977. The Vespel seal rings series concerns Vespel, a polyimide-based plastic with thermophysical properties. Vespel can sustain extreme environmental conditions. The Vespel seal rings are used as leak-proof seals for various instruments. During the assembly process, cutting the seal rings was an issue; much of the material in this series relates to different processes of cutting and smoothing (deburring) the seal rings. There are engineering notes, memorandum, product catalogs, and pamphlets dating from 1982 to 1983. There are also seven examples of laser-cut Vespel seal rings.
The Pneumatic tension device series consists of Withers's engineering notes; sketches; correspondence from the DuPont Company related to giving him ownership of the patent; and a flier about the device, where it is referred to as a pneumatic tensor actuator. It acts like a clamp or a lift in manufacturing equipment. The Trade catalogs, pamphlets, and articles series includes catalogs for equipment and machinery parts that are not identifiably connected to a specific project, information related to building a catamaran, and an article of interest related to composite materials used to build airplanes. These materials date from 1967 to 1983.
This collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
Gift of Andrea S. Withers.
- E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Michael Somerville Withers papers
- Laurie Sather
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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