From Mylar to drumhead
Polyester film was invented in England in the 1940s at Imperial Chemical Industries, (ICI), as a substitute for the cellulose film used by reconnaissance aircraft doing wartime surveillance work. The cellulose film was prone to breaking, which would negate the effort of the mission. After the war, the DuPont Chemical Company bought patent rights to manufacture polyester film in the United States. Their product, called Mylar, was used extensively as a packaging material, for recording tape, and as insulation for electric motors.
Jim Erwin, a chemical engineer for 3M was the first to use Mylar as a drumhead.
"I used to go to New York to see my jazz trumpeter brother play in the nightclubs there. It was around 1952 or 53, and he was leading a band at the Cafe Metropole. Duke Ellington's former drummer, Sonny Greer broke a drumhead that night, and later I went up to him and told him that I thought I could make a head for him that wouldn't break.
I had been working with polyester film at 3M for about eight years and thought it might work as a head material. I went back to Minnesota and made one up by serrating the edge of a piece of Mylar so it could be bent around and attached to the flesh hoop of a calfskin head. I took it back to Sonny in New York, and he used it and said that it was the best head he'd ever played on. He was really impressed with its uniformity."
This invention relates to drum heads and methods of making the same.
In the past, drum heads have commonly been made of animal skins disposed or stretched across a ring, which is in turn clamped over the cylindrical body of the drum.
Modern plastics offer superior substitutes for animal skins in many cases, but the satisfactory securement of such plastics to the drum ring has been somewhat of a problem.
It is an object of this invention to provide an improved drum head and method of making same which is adaptable to the use of modern tough and strong plastics to replace the conventional animal skins.
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