Ernest R. Kaswell, 87, a materials science expert whose Boston area business was a leading developer of synthetic goods for the government and private industry during and after World War II, died July 28 at Reston Hospital Center. He had an aortic hemorrhage.
Mr. Kaswell spent much of his career around Boston as president of Fabric Research Laboratories. The company was acquired in 1972 by what is now Albany International Corp.
He moved to the Washington area in 1990 and lived in Reston. In recent years, he was an expert witness for textile-related lawsuits and did consulting work on such matters as improving the feel of hairpieces.
Ernest Ralph Kaswell was a Boston native and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also received a master's degree in textile technology.
He co-founded Fabric Research Laboratories in 1942 with two other MIT graduates. The company did extensive work for the military and the space program as well as for industrial companies.
During World War II, he had a contract with the Army Air Forces to develop techniques to use synthetic nylon as a suitable replacement for silk in parachutes.
He later had NASA contracts to create fire-resistant materials for spacecraft use after a launch-pad fire killed three astronauts aboard Apollo 1 in 1967.
For the private sector, he worked on making synthetic bacon taste better.
He held several patents, including one for a synthetic wood block flooring material.
He wrote "Textile Fibers, Yarns and Fabrics: a Comparative Survey of Their Behavior With Special Reference to Wool" (1953) and "Wellington Sears Handbook of Industrial Textiles" (1963).
He was a former president of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists as well as the Fiber Society.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Yolande Romsey Kaswell of Reston; three children, Jeanne K. Sager of Reston, Gordon D. Kaswell of Eugene, Ore., and Stuart J. Kaswell of Potomac; a brother; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.