George S. Nalle, Jr.
His invention and commercial development of process for the direct extrusion of nonwoven netting has generated many unique end-use applications.
An inventor and entrepeneur, George S. Nalle, Jr. developed a process for the direct extrusion of nonwoven plastic netting in the 1960s. Today, the technology has end uses as diverse as netting used to support reverse osmosis membranes in dialysis machines, semiconductor manufacture, desalination equipment; geotextiles employed to aid in reforestation and retard soil eerosion; and the ubiquitous onion bag.
After serving as the U.S. Air Force representative on a team to study the use of plastics in Germany at the end of World War II, Nalle returned to the U.S. convinced of their potential and soon started an injection molding company in his hometown of Austin, TX. He subsequently became interested in other processes, like vacuum forming, for which he developed semiautomatic equipment. Turning to extrusion, Nalle initiated a project to replace conventional mosquito netting (which used relatively expensive copper) with a plastic alternative.
The program was unsuccessful. But the resulting process showed vast potential as a way to produce bilayer net without the knots that were inevitable with woven metallic or synthetic fibers. The process used a pair of concentric counter-rotating dies at right angles to the extruder, with a quenching bath and specially designed takeoff equipment.
Afer a struggle to establish patent protection for the Naltex product in the U.S. and abroad, Nalle licensed the process to companies in Europe and Japan, where even more applications surfaced. Nalle Plastics was sold to U.S. Netting in 1987, after which George Nalle founded a new company, Nalle Enterprises, to develop new applications such as netting made from conductive polymeers. He is the holder of 26 U.S. patents.
Nalle has received two awards from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), of which he has been a member since 1947:
- In 1991, he was named a Fellow of the Society.
- SPE presented him with the Fred O. Conley Award in Plastics Engineering/Technology in 1995.
Nalle, who holds a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin, is a member of the University of Texas Chancellor's Council and serves as a trustee of the Southwest Research Institute of San Antonio.