Care to know about the history of plastics? Why it is relevant to know? We see plastics around. They are used in every home, manufacturing company and establishment. Some can’t get rid of it as it is already a part of everyday life. Get inside your room. Count the number of items with plastic on it. The material makes our lives very convenient. It is flexible because it can be molded easily. It is also lightweight, durable and can resist tear and wear. It is also cheap or affordable. This is why most factories used plastics because they find it affordable. But, humans are becoming abusive. Garbage trucks are loaded of plastics each day. Some consider burning which is really harmful to the environment. Others don’t practice the art of recycling and re-using. This is why we are facing a huge problem on how to minimize plastic wastes. Before that, let us travel back to where such thing originated.
The earliest is during the year 1284. What is essential during 1284? In this year, the 1st recorded mention made by the Horner’s Company of London, with tortoiseshell and horn as the early natural plastic. In 1823, Macintosh makes use of rubber gum to waterproof cotton. The same year, “mac” was born. 39 years after, that was 1862, the Display of Parkesine (cellulose nitrate) took place in London’s Great International Exhibition. After 10 years (1872), the Hyatt Brothers came up with the first plastics injection molding machine followed by George Kodak patents machine for photographic film and Viscose silk developed by Bevan and Cross. The discovery involving plastic never stopped. All look forward in producing the best quality material.
During 1900-1929, there are great achievements. People continuously experience triumph in discovering the world of plastic. The years between 1900-1929 are even fruitful with the rise of Casein plastics by Erenoid, Viscose stockings of Germany, Eichengrun’s first cellulose acetate powder, phenolic laminates, thiourea formaldehyde resins, coloured thermosetting plastic tableware, Eckert and Ziegler molding machines, Screw per-plasticisation in injection moulding, Crawford at ICI develops the first commercial synthesis of poly, Plunkett (DuPont) discovers PTFE, and more. Mentioned are few of the highlighted events happened in years 1900-1929. A lot of things happened until the plastics of war.
1940s mark the plastics of war. During the 1940s, the application of polyethylene in radar, production of PVC and polyacrylonitrile (PAN) happened. In 1941, Whinfield and Dickson introduce polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which later followed by the rise of a polyester fiber names Terylene. 7 years after, the Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) was produce and George deMestral popularized Velcro as the introduction of 12” long playing records lout of PVC appeared. In 1949, many significant events happened. It is where the 1st Airfix model produced, polystyrene was made as a commercial plastic and the launching of the USTupperware was made. Lycra was then invented by DuPont.
1950s are for fashion, textiles, toys, and domestic uses. Polyethylene bag appears, ICI starts a new factory at Redcar for Terylene production, Commercialisation of polyester fibres, Dow Chemical Co. introduces Polystyrene foam, DuPont files patents for 1st acetals, Bayer and General Electric production of polycarbonates, and Barbie Doll is made possible by the Mattel at American International Toy Fair.
In 1960s and 70s, it was the year for plastics color and design. Water based acrylic paints came to rise. Polyaryletheretherketone (PEEK) was prepared by ICI. Then, the first commercial mobile phones took place. Right after these significant years, high performance plastics came. 80s and 90s are the years for high performance plastics. Linear low density polyethylene, HDPE pressure pipes, slim plastic Swatch, ICI and Bayer launch PEEK, light emitting polymers, smart cars, and more appeared.
The latest, Nano-Technology already penetrates also the NASA explorations and Polycond projects. These are focused to greener plastics that fit the future.