Billmeyer, Fred Wallace, Jr.
Fred Wallace Billmeyer, Jr., was an American chemist who contributed through industrial research and academia to the developing fields of polymer chemistry and color science during the second half of the twentieth century.
Billmeyer was born on August 24, 1919, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1941, he received a B.S. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. Then, he received a Ph. D. in physical chemistry from Cornell University in 1945 after studying the measurement of molecular weights by light scattering under Nobel Laureate Peter Debye.
His professional career can be divided into two major parts, focusing first on industry and then on education. Upon graduation from Cornell, he joined the Plastics Department of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Wilmington, Delaware, where he remained for 20 years. There he worked on various aspects of polymers. Instinctively an educator, he published Textbook of Polymer Chemistry (1957) and Textbook of Polymer Science (1962), which went through three editions and was also published in Japanese. These books helped to create the academic discipline of polymer science. He served as a visiting professor in chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the 1960–1961 academic year. Billmeyer increasingly became involved with the growing field of color science. At the University of Delaware, he supervised his first graduate color science student, Joseph Atkins, whose 1964 Ph.D. thesis was on the Absorption and Scattering of Light in Turbid Media.
In 1964, he retired from DuPont to join academia full time as a professor of analytical chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, New York. At RPI, he taught and directed research in both polymer and color science and directed the Rensselaer Color Measurement Laboratory until he became professor emeritus in 1984. During his time at RPI, he not only taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students but also, with Max Saltzman, initiated summer courses about color science for people from industry. His influence on the field of color science was extended throughout the United States by over 1000 people from diverse fields attending these summer programs.
Deepening his commitment to education, he undertook two other major projects while at RPI. In 1966, Professor Billmeyer continued his collaboration with Max Saltzman, publishing Principles of Color Technology. Their two editions of this textbook became widely acclaimed throughout the industrial world as the primary introduction to color science. A third edition entitled Billmeyer and Saltzman’s Principles of Color Technology (published in 2000) by Roy Berns is still widely used. Also with Richard Kelly in 1975, he published Entering Industry: A Guide for Young Professionals.
The second project was the creation of an academic journal for color science. After supporting two unsuccessful attempts at journals of color engineering and science, in 1976, he initiated the journal Color Research and Application. Billmeyer was the founding editor and served in that position until 1986. His approach of involving national color organizations, beginning with the Canadian Society for Color, the US Inter-Society Color Council, and the Colour Group (Great Britain) and later others throughout the world, has contributed to the success of this English-language journal published by John Wiley & Sons now in its 40th year of continuous publication.
Many of Billmeyer’s scientific contributions throughout the years fall into the category of light scattering and the application of turbid medium theory to the formulation and shading of colored materials. Beginning with the basic theory of Beer’s law, he programmed a digital computer to calculate the concentrations required to produce a given transparent color by mixing soluble dyes . Next with Beasley and Atkins, he expanded two-flux Kubelka-Munk theory to a four-flux turbid medium theory , which became known as the BAB theory for colorant formulation. From there, he continued the development of the BAB to apply particularly to paint systems  and expanded that further to coatings with goniometric characteristics [4, 5]. He further developed practices for determining the optical properties needed for use in the turbid medium theory and multi-flux theory [6, 7, 8, 9].
Billmeyer was a versatile and prolific communicator; his contributions were not limited to turbid medium theory. Two other areas that should be mentioned here are the characterization of fluorescent materials [10, 11] and use of color difference equations in manufacturing . His involvement within the many professional organizations and collaboration with other scientists throughout the world influenced most areas of color science. In particular, his more than 350 published articles discussed polymer characterization and diverse aspects of color. His 13 books presented in clear, concise language the scientific principles necessary for the industrial use of polymers and color to enhance our lives.
Billmeyer, F. W.: Textbook of Polymer Chemistry. Interscience, New York (1957) (in Russian 1958).
Billmeyer, F. W.: Textbook of Polymer Science, 3 edn. Wiley, New York (1962, 1971, 1884) (in Japanese 1969 & 1989; in Malaysian 1989).
Billmeyer, F. W., Saltzman, M.: Principles of Color Technology, 2 edn. Wiley, New York (1966, 1981) (in German Grundlagen der Farbtechnologie. Goettingen: Zeurich: Muster-Schmidt Verlag, 1993).
Billmeyer, F. W.: Synthetic Polymers. Double Day, Garden City (1972).
Collins, E. A., Bares, J., Billmeyer, F. W.: Experiments in Polymer Science. Wiley-Interscience, New York (1973).
Billmeyer, F. W., Kelley, R. N.: Entering Industry: A Guide for Young Professionals. Wiley, New York (1975).
- 2.Beasley, J. K., Atkins, J. T., Billmeyer, F. W.: Scattering and absorption of light in turbid media electromagnetic scattering. In: Proceedings of the 2nd Interdisciplinary Conference on Electromagnetic Scattering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, June 1965, pp. 765–785Google Scholar
- 3.Billmeyer, F.W., Abrams, R.L.: Predicting reflectance and color of paint films by Kubelka-Munk analysis i – turbid medium theory. JPT 45(579), 23–38 (1973)Google Scholar
- 4.Billmeyer, F.W., Davidson, J.G.: Color and appearance of metalized paint films I. Characterization. J. Paint Tech. 46(593), 31–37 (1974)Google Scholar
- 5.Billmeyer, F.W., Carter, E.C.: Color and appearance of metalized paint films II. Initial application of turbid-medium theory. J. Paint Tech. 48(613), 53–60 (1976)Google Scholar
- 7.Billmeyer, F.W., Phillips, D.G.: Predicting reflectance and color of paint films by Kubelka-Munk analysis III effect of concentration errors on color for mixtures of one chromatic pigment with white. J. Paint Tech. 46(592), 26–29 (1974)Google Scholar
- 8.Billmeyer, F.W., Phillips, D.G.: Predicting reflectance and color of paint films by Kubelka-Munk analysis IV Kubelka Munk scattering coefficient. J. Paint Tech. 48(616), 30–36 (1976)Google Scholar
- 9.Billmeyer, F.W., Richards, L.W.: Scattering and absorption of radiation by lighting materials. J. Color Appearance 2, 4–15 (1973)Google Scholar
- 10.Alman, D.H., Billmeyer, F.W.: Integrating-sphere errors in the colorimetry of fluorescent materials. Color Res. Appl. 1, 114–145 (1976)Google Scholar
- 12.Morley, D. I., Munn Rich, R., Billmeyer, F. W. Small and moderate colour differences parts I and II. J. Soc. Dyers Colour. 91, 229–242; 302–307 (1975)Google Scholar