Original Dixon & Rulon® History
The Industrial Ride
In the late 1800s, textile and cotton mill factories produced an incredible range of new products, ushering in an era of industrialization in the United States and replacing the old artisan and agricultural way of life.
New England, in particular, enjoyed a rapid growth of mill towns where some of the local inventors and engineers gained a reputation for ingenuity that survives today. One of these pioneers was Ezra Dixon who came from one of the oldest New England families. Interested in machinery from boyhood, he spent much of his youth around the mills of Spencer, Massachusetts; and almost forty years of his adult life employed in all operations of cotton manufacturing (back-boy, cleaner, frame spinner, mule piecer and doffer). Dixon was devoted to manufacturing and passionate about solving the problems which challenged industrial owners. After serving in the Civil War, Dixon ventured to Rhode Island to work in several textile mills, installing spinning frames. These mills used saddles on their machinery, a type of wooden bearing to weigh the top rolls on textile spinning frames.
In 1876, Dixon founded the Dixon Lubricating Saddle Company in Providence, which was moved to Bristol four years later. Dixon understood that a more advanced saddle design could significantly enhance productivity, and soon invented and patented a metal bearing used on machines for spinning cotton yarn. The bearing became the global standard for this modest but nevertheless critical part. Ironically, Dixon’s relentless dedication to improve the performance of a simple mechanical component became the groundwork for the Rulon® fluoropolymer solutions you see today – with the evolution of the Dixon Lubricating Saddle Company into the next century.
During the late 1940s, Robert Rulon-Miller (who married into the Dixon family and was President at Dixon Industries Corp.) was experimenting with a new material, which utilized DuPont® Teflon® (tetrafluoroethylene), for a part in a new plastic saddle design to ensure smoother function and longer wear life. He discovered a new formula and called it “Rulon.” This material would have the lowest coefficient of friction, be resistant to chemicals, withstand extreme temperatures, and be an important engineering element in numerous applications. In 1957, the solution was officially trademarked as Rulon®. This first type of Rulon® material was dubbed “Rulon A” (which was later replaced by AR). In the six decades since the Rulon® material came on the scene, first with Dixon Industries Corp., then Furon (who purchased Dixon in 1989), and now presently Omniseal Solutions™, the fluoropolymer solution has been expanded from the original formula to many varied grades, each with unique properties designed to serve a wide range of applications and industries that go beyond its industrial heritage.
The precision components we now create are bearings, rings, tapes, basic shapes, wear parts and formed parts. The material can be machined, molded, extruded, skived, stamped, and hot and cold formed. Can you guess how many formulations there are now? The possibilities are endless!