The History of Plastic

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Anselme Payen

1830

1833

Anselme Payen discovers and isolates an enzyme called diastase; leads to the discovery of Celluloid.

1839

Eduard Simon discovers polystyrene

and names it Metastyrol.

1839

Charles Goodyear invents the vulcanization of natural rubber.

1840

Cristian Friedrich Schonbein discovers and names Ozone.

1840

1846

Cristian Friedrich Schonbein discovers Nitrocellulose (guncotton.)

1850

1855

Alexander Parkes creates Parkesine.

1860

1869

John Wesley Hyatt invents the first plastic. 

1870

1872

John Wesley Hyatt and his brother Isaiah patent the first injection moulding machine.

Fiberglass - pixabay.jpg

1880

Hermann Hammesfahr invents a glass cloth. Also known as glass-reinforced plastic, glass-fiber-reinforced plastic, GFK but, commonly known as fibreglass.

1878

Hilaire Berniguard count de Cardonnet began to develop rayon.

1880

1888

George Eastman introduces the first Kodak camera, which consisted of a continuous photographic film based on  Nitrocellulose.

1890

1894

Charles Frederick Cross, Edward John Bevan and Clayton Beadle patent their artificial silk: viscose silk.

Kodak - Wikimedia.gif
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1900

1908

Jacques E. Brandenberger designs a machine for continuous production of a strong, transparent film.

Called Cellophane .

1907

Leo Baekeland invents Bakelite, first fully synthetic plastic, marking the start of the modern plastics industry.

1910

1913

Friedrich Heinrich and August Klattle patent polyvinyl chloride.

PVC - Wikimedia.jpg

1916

Rolls-Royce begins to use phenol-formaldehyde in the interior of its cars.

1914

The First World War

1918

1920

1920

Hermann Staudinger publishes his seminal paper “Über polymerisation”, which leads to the 1953 Nobel Prize.

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1930

“Scotch” Tape is invented.

1930

1933

 Otto Röhm and his staff trademark Plexiglass PMMA.

1933

 Eric Fawcett and Reginald Gibson discover polyethylene.

1933

Rowland Hill and John Crawford discover polymethyl methacrylate also known as Perspex, Plexiglass and Lucite.

1935

Wallace Hume Carothers and his team develop Nylon. The first synthetic polymer fibre to be produced commercially in 1938.

1935

Carl Munters and John Tandberg receive a US patent for polystyrene foam as a heat insulator.

Polyethylene - Wikimedia.jpg
Nylon - pixabay.jpg

1937

Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) is granted a patent for Low-density Polyethylene.

1938

Roy Plunkett discovers polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) commonly known as Teflon.

Teflon pan - pixabay.jpg

1939

First commercial production of polyethylene.

1940

1942

Dr Harry Coover and his team discover methyl cyanoacrylate better known as “super glue”.

1941

J Rex Whinfield and James T Dickson patent Polyethylene Terephthalate.

1946

developed container made out of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) famously known as Tupperware.

1947

Otis Ray McIntire files a patent, on behalf of the Dow Chemical Company, for an improved method for the manufacture of polystyrene foam later called Styrofoam.

1939

The Second World War

1945

1949

Joseph C. Shivers develops a synthetic fibre based on polyurethane called Spandex.

1948

Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) is patent.

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1950

1955

George de Mestral patents a hook-and-loop fastener commonly known as Velcro, made from nylon.

1956

Robert Neal Macdonald, on behalf of Du Pont, patents polyoxymethylenes (POM).

1958

Lego develops LEGO blocks made of ABS.

1958

Bayer AG introduces polycarbonates.

1959

Mattel, Inc introduces a plastic doll made out of ABS and PVC called Barbie.

1960

1961

On behalf of Du Pont, Stephen Dal Nogare, West Chester and John Oliver Punderson patent a thermally stable form of POM.

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1962

Frank Gerow and Thomas Cronin develop the first breast implant made with silicone gel.

Silicone Breast Implant - unsplash.jpg

1963

Karl Ziegler and Giulio Natta awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the Ziegler-Natta Catalyst.

1965

Stephanie Kwolek invents poly-para-phenylene terephthalamide also known as Kevlar.

1967

De Pas, D’urbino and Lomazzi design the first piece of inflatable furniture made of PVC.

1969

Domingo Liotta and Denton Cooley develop and implant, respectively, the first total artificial heart in a human body, made of polyurethane, PET and salistic.

1969

Neil Armstrong plants a nylon flag part of the Lunar Flag Assembly (LFA).

1970

1975

Martin Cooper, on behalf of Motorola, patents a radio telephone system that becomes the first handheld mobile telephone

Liotta-Cooley Artificial Heart © Copyright Smithsonian
Lunar Flag Assembly  - © Copyright NASA

1977

Union Carbide initiates the first production of LLDPE using the novel UNIPOLtm PE process.

© Copyright Smithsonian

© Copyright NASA

1980

1988

Society of the Plastics Industry (now, Plastics Industry Association) introduced the Resin Identification Code (RIC).

1987

Dr. Herbert Naarmann and Dr. Nicolas Theophilou patent polyacetylene, on behalf of BASF.

1989

Maguire launches WSB Gravimetric Batch Blender.

1990

ICI launches “the first practical plastic that is totally biodegradable” called Biopol.

1990

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2000

2005

NASA invents RXF1, a polyethylene-based material. It is being considered to be used on a spaceship to Mars.

2009

Boeing 787 has its skin made of 100% compost (carbon laminate, carbon sandwich and fibreglass) and 50% of all materials in the plane.

2009

Introduction of Organic Solar Cells.

Boeing 787 - wikimedia.jpg

2010

Airbus A350 XWB - wikimedia.jpg

2013

Airbus A350 XWB overtakes Boeing 787 by being made of 52% composites.