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Chemical Innovation

Heritage of Innovation

Over 140 Years of Solving the World's Problems at a Human Level

Heritage of Innovation - from textiles to the future

Milliken has long led the way for "knowledge-based" investment, employing over 100 PhDs and has accumulated over 2,200 U.S. patents - and more than 5,000 patents worldwide - since our founding in 1865.​​​

Early Ambitions – Textile Innovation

In its early days, Milliken was primarily a textile wholesaler, focused on optimizing the flow of goods between retailers and manufacturers. This included investing in textile mills for better supply chain control, something unheard of at the time.

The early 20th century saw Milliken move from wholesaler to manufacturer and become one of the first to realize the potential of new man-made fibers. During World War II Milliken built the first textile mill with air cleaning and cooling to manufacture tire cord from nylon.


Growing Influence – Fabric Innovation

The pace of innovation picked up after World War II with the establishment of a research group in 1945.  Out of this group came key forerunners of important technologies to come, including Two-for-One Twisting, Single-End Sizing and Acrylic Yarn Dying.

To further aid its innovation efforts, Milliken launched a chemical manufacturing division in 1957. The result was a number of high-performance fabric innovations:

  • Agilon™ nylon yarn was created to serve a new surging market for women's hosiery.
  • Belfast, the first self-ironing 100% cotton fabric, was patented in 1961.
  • Visa® polyester, a fabric that can release stains and soils in one wash, was introduced as an alternative to cotton fabrics.

Digital Computing

Digital Computing – Floor Covering innovation

The advent of digital computing in the 1970’s signaled another wave of innovation. Milliken Research saw an opportunity to wed ink-jet technology and computer-control enabled tufted carpet printing with specialized designs. The resulting digital carpet printer — Millitron™ — enabled Milliken to enter into the area rug business and change the face of floor coverings forever.

Products that Do Good – Chemical Innovation

Milliken focuses on creating innovations that tackle today’s tough issues and concerns. We’ve developed a new type of chemistry to create additives that reduce weight in plastics and make them clearer. We’ve drawn upon both our textile and chemical expertise to develop anti-microbial fabrics that promote healing, flame-retardant fabrics that keep us safe, high-tech composites that reduce rolling resistance in tires or help capture the power of the wind, and carpets that are now vinyl-free and still beautiful.

A Heritage for the Future

From supply chain insights to connecting with customers, from our world-class approach to plant safety to our passion for quality and sustainable manufacturing, from research excellence to functional design, innovation at Milliken has never been confined to the lab. Today, we work with our customers and our communities to try to build a better tomorrow, with products that make the world safer, more sustainable and even more beautiful.