Dr Brian Mercer, who died aged 70 in November, was a member of the distinguished Mercer family, which was involved in the textile industry for many generations. In the 1950s he invented the Netlon process, in which plastics are extruded into a net-like process in one stage, winning a Queen's Award for Technological Achievement.
Netlon Ltd was founded in 1959 to manufacture products but most importantly to commercialise the concept. Products are today used in such diverse areas as packaging, agriculture, gardening and industry. The process has been licensed to many countries. Mercer was to strengthen his 'big idea' with at least a further 28 patents of improvement.
In 1978 he became a Fellow of the Institute of Materials and only the second person to receive its coveted Prince Philip Award. He was elected a Fellow of the Textile Institute in 1973 and in 1988 it bestowed on him an Honorary Fellowship. In 1981 he received the OBE and in 1984 was made a Fellow of the Royal Society.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Brian Mercer developed Tensar geogrids for the construction industry to provide stabilisation and reinforcement. Like Netlon, they have the concept of simplicity, flexibility and strength. Tensar geogrids are now used throughout the world in a wide range of soil reinforcement applications.
The products are made in the UK and under licence in the US and Japan. Further Queen's Awards were gained for the Tensar invention and its exports.