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Inventors Cellophane
By Mary Bellis

Cellophane was invented by Jacques E. Brandenberger in 1908, a Swiss textile engineer who first thought of the idea for a clear, protective, packaging layer in 1900. Brandenberger was seated at a restaurant when a customer spilt wine onto the tablecloth. As the waiter replaced the cloth, Brandenberger decided that he would invent a clear flexible film that could be applyed to cloth, making it waterproof.

He experimented with different materials and in tried applying liquid viscose (a cellulose product known as rayon) to cloth, but the viscose made the cloth too stiff. His idea failed but he noted that the coating peeled off in a transparent film. Like so many inventions, the original use was abandoned and new and better uses were found. By 1908, he developed the first machine for the manufacture of transparent sheets of regenerated cellulose. By 1912, Brandenberger was making a saleable thin flexible film used in gas masks. He obtained patents to cover the machinery and the essential ideas of his process. In 1917 Brandenberger assigned his patents to La Cellophane Societe Anonyme and joined that organization.

On December 26, 1923, an agreement was executed between Du Pont Cellophane Company and La Cellophane by which La Cellophane licensed Du Pont Cellophane Company exclusively under its United States cellophane patents, and granted Du Pont Cellophane Company the exclusive right to make and sell in North and Central America under La Cellophane's secret processes for cellophane manufacture. DuPont Cellophane Company granted to La Cellophane exclusive rights for the rest of the world under any cellophane patents or processes Du Pont Cellophane Company might develop.

An important factor in the growth of cellophane production and sales was the perfection of moisture proof cellophane by William Hale Charch (1898-1958), a superior product of DuPont research and patented by that company in 1927. According to DuPont, "DuPont scientist William Hale Charch and a team of researchers figured out how to make cellophane moisture-proof, opening the door for its use in food packaging. After testing more than 2,000 alternatives, Charch and his team devised a workable process for moisture-proofing cellophane."

Making Cellophane
In the manufacturing process, an alkaline solution of cellulose fibres (usually wood or cotton) known as viscose is extruded through a narrow slit into an acid bath. The acid regenerates the cellulose, forming a film. Further treatment, such as washing and bleaching, yields cellophane.

The complaint, filed December 13, 1947, charged Du Pont with monopolizing, attempting to monopolize and conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce in cellophane and cellulosic caps and bands in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act.

Related Information
Scotch Tape and Richard Drew the Inventor

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