Davis-Standard R&D Pioneer Norton C Wheeler Jr. Dies at 96 at his home in Mystic, Connecticut. His career at Davis-Standard spanned six decades. Even after his retirement in 1989, he remained engaged as a consultant until the age of 90. He is known as the father of the DSB (Davis-Standard Barrier) feedscrew, authored numerous technical papers, and mentored many Davis-Standard engineers. He was awarded Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers in 1985 and received the Bruce C. Maddock Award in 1998 for his pioneering work in research and development.
Wheeler joined Davis-Standard in 1951 after serving in the U.S. Air Force and graduating from Brown University with a chemistry degree. He spearheaded Davis-Standard’s first lab in the 1960s, growing the facility from a small space to a building equipped for customer trials and extensive R&D within a decade. During the following 20 years, he conducted revolutionary research with regard to feedscrew design and extrusion process control.
“I was honored to know Norton and work alongside him for so many years. He was a great mind, problem-solver and infinite resource. He was also a wonderful human being, always willing to give of himself in his modest way. Our R&D capabilities and technical leadership began with Norton and he remained so vital to our work throughout his life. His achievements not only defined Davis-Standard as an R&D leader, but they changed the industry. He was truly one of a kind and will be dearly missed,” said John Christiano, Davis-Standard’s Vice President of Extrusion Technology.
In the early 1980s, Wheeler patented the well-known DSB screw design. This design overcame limitations of existing barrier screws by optimising the screw’s melt region, leading to improved stability and performance. The DSB quickly became the industry’s premier feedscrew and gave Davis-Standard a global technical presence. It also helped the company expand into multiple processing areas such as pipe and profile and sheet. The DSB continues to be the basis for all Davis-Standard screw designs.
Wheeler was predeceased by his wife Mary Anderson Wheeler and is survived by their five children, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.