Charles W. Kleiderer - Hall of Fame Entry
Author: Plastics Academy Staff
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Charles W. Kleiderer
Material, Process, Management
Made major contributions to his country and to the plastics industry during World War II, and truly merits the honors extended to him by a grateful nation.
In 1940, Kleiderer and his three employees were developing new plastics materials at the Office of Scientific Research and Development at Johns Hopkins University. At the time, over 1,500 people were working on the secret Project A, the development of a "variable time" (VT) fuse that enabled artillery shells to explode within a predetermined distance from their target.
No existing material, including plastics such as styrene, acetates, and lucite, could withstand the tremendous force exerted when the shell was fired. Kleiderer was chosen by the U.S. Navy to develop new plastics that would meet the rigid electrical and impact requirements of the VT fuse.
After numerous reformations of different products and exhaustive lab and field tests, a new material, named ethyl cellulose, was developed with Hercules Powder Co. A derivative of ethyl cellulose was also developed and patented by Kleiderer, named "Cliderite," to be used as a sealer for the fuse that generated the power to trigger the firing mechanism.
Once the development of the materials was complete, mass production of the fuse for the war effort became the next major challenge for Kleiderer. He took on the responsibility for development of tooling, equipment and facilities, training of manufacturing personnel, production, quality control, delivery of the fuses to the various locations of operations, and training of civilian and military personnel in the proper use of the fuses.
For his wartime efforts, he was awarded the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance Award, Naval Development Award, Office of Scientific Research Certificate of Merit, the Army and Navy Certificates of Appreciation, and the War Manpower Commission Committee Diploma on Scientific Research.
Following the war, he became vice president of Brilhart Plastics Corp. and president of Penn Plastics Corp. Prior to his retirement, he was executive vice president of Shaw Plastics Corp.
He has been a member of SPE since 1944, chairman of the National Plastics Exposition Companies Committee of SPI, and president of the Plastics Pioneers. He received his BS in chemistry from W. Kentucky University.
Kleiderer currently resides with his wife, Roberta, in Haverhill, MA. He has one daughter, Carole L. Kayea, and two grandchildren.