People are curious about the history of plastics. Some are willing to conduct studies. Others sent their own people trace the origin of plastics. Some are contented with reading. They simply browse resources from the Internet or books to know the reason behind the discovery of these materials. Today, plastics industry is a multi-billion dollar business. It never stops there. It continuously grows. The said material is useful in the market particularly when it comes to pipe and fittings, construction, electronics, packaging, production of goods, etc. If this material is very important in various industries, isn’t it essential to know a portion of its history?
Plastics are needed in various industries. These basic materials are equally important with paper, glass, metals, and wood. Plastics affect millions of people and businesses. Others say that it would even be difficult to completely eliminate it despite its harmful effect to human health and the environment. As the world innovates, these materials are even penetrating to various worlds such as in medicine, entertainment and art.
The first American plastic which is Celluloid was discovered by John Wesley Hyatt in the year 1868. He is a young printer. He combined nitric acid and pyroxylin out of cotton, with camphor to come up with the product. Celluloid immediately becomes a hit in the market. It was even used by George Eastman in the first photographic film in 1882. The material is called cellulose nitrate today. In 1909, Dr. Lee Hendrick Baekeland made phenoformaldehyde plastics or phenolics known. This is the first widely accepted plastic material. He successfully formed such materials using heat and pressure. After Dr. Baekeland intervention, the next big thing happened in the 1920s wherein cellulose acetate was introduced. This is quite similar to cellulose nitrate but proven safer. Ureaformaldehyde and polyvinyl chloride were even introduced. Nylon followed through W.T. Carothers. What a history of plastics.
Each phase show the dramatic evolution of plastics. In the 1930s, acrylic resins rise and it is now the 3rd largest-selling plastic. Melamine resins are even developed which contribute largely to the production of decorative laminate tops and surfacing.
Today, polyethylene is the wisely used type of plastic. On the other hand, the rise of polypropylene and the introduction of acetal and polycarbonate form the plastics family named as engineering thermoplastics. As we completely innovate, there are for sure more to expect. At least, you know by now how interesting the history of plastics is. Who knows, you might become part of this historical evolution in the future.