The History Of Plastics From Its Invention To Today

The History of Plastics: from Its Invention to Today

The History Of Plastics From Its Invention To Today

This is an interesting story of how the world’s most important raw material was discovered. Yes, you have to say “discovered,” because the properties of plastic that we so admired from the beginning were developed over millions of years in nature. The capabilities found in natural rubber inspired first the Mayans and Incas, and then the entire Western world as well – capabilities that became increasingly important to technological development over the next few centuries. Then, when world wars brought rubber production and trade to a halt, the race of chemists began. Who would be the first to create artificial gum Arabic that could be produced in large quantities?

Back in the 19th Century, the First Experiments Were Successful

The history of plastics began when the properties of elasticity, insensitivity to water, and good resistance to many acids inspired inventors to conduct further experiments. Mr. Goodyear invented a method of converting rubber into rubbers in the United States as early as 1839. Using this new method of vulcanization, he first produced rubber gloves until he discovered the possibility of making tires from rubber. Today, Goodyear remains one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world.

The discovery of Cellulose (film, ping pong), rayon (viscose used as rayon), and bug glue followed in the next 30 years of history. The pioneer of injection molding was John Wesley Hyatt, who developed the first injection molding machine for Cellulose in 1872. However, John Wesley Hyatt still faced serious problems before his invention or discovery became a real success. At first, the Cellulose proved to be quite unstable and kept catching fire.

It Was Only Later That It Was Discovered That the Basic Principles of Science

All these inventions in the history of plastics happened more or less experimentally. The first “plastics” were actually made from natural materials as well. The basic chemical principles for developing plastics were only gradually discovered. in 1907, the first actual purely synthetically produced plastic was invented, developed, and manufactured. A Mr. Baekeland discovered the connection in the phenol-formaldehyde reaction and introduced Bakelite. Bakelite began a tremendous triumph as a heat-resistant material for insulating electrical currents and was used in power towers and fuses for another 50 years. By the end of the 19th century, the chemical community had reached an understanding of the principles of polymerization of natural substances that could be replicated artificially.

However, it was not until after 1910 that Hermann Staudinger in Germany discovered the true interrelationship of long molecules of polymeric compounds. This created the scientific basis for chemistry that could in principle be transferred to the production of other compounds. In the first half of the 20th century, more and more different plastics were invented as time went on. Germany’s disastrous defeat in the Second World War ensured that a large part of global production initially took place in the United States until BASF and other companies were able to enter development and production.

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PVC, Polyethylene, and Modern Recycling

Following its discovery, PVC was patented in 1912, but it was not until a few years later that it was processed, manufactured, and used for a variety of purposes by Coroplast. PVC is also known as vinyl. It was the substance that replaced old-fashioned bug glue for many years and was used to produce billions of records. However, this early plastic was also used for insulation, flooring, etc. Since it could be produced from the cheap chlorine gas used as a chemical waste product, it proved to be very profitable, even after its harmful health effects were recognized. Today, PVC has been further developed and is therefore safe to use. In the 1930s, another breakthrough was made. Polyethylene and, 20 years later, polypropylene revolutionized the market for cheap bottles, but especially for packaging.

This plastic was cheap and relatively easy to produce. Soon, production multiplied by the ton. Plastics were everywhere, and new uses were constantly being discovered. That’s how polyethylene and polypropylene came to be used as packaging waste in the world’s oceans. However, these two plastics can be recycled with little to no loss of mass. As long as they can be collected without being mixed with other plastics, there is no need to produce new plastics. Unfortunately, excellent systems for recycling via deposit machines have so far been established almost exclusively in high-tech Germany.

A Clever Combination of Plastics and Injection Molding

But again, back to the text. We have described plastic as the most important raw material in the world. Is this really true? What about wood, stone, and cement, all metals? We at TX MOLD should actually know. After all, we have been successfully producing various plastic parts for over 30 years. Almost 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide since the start of mass production. Our customers come from all areas of industry and manufacturing. Many tons of plastic leaves our large injection molding plant in Shenzhen, China every year as parts. And we are just one of many such companies in China and around the world. Yes, we can confirm that without plastics, our global civilization would soon come to a standstill. Plastics are present in every area of life.

  1. packaging, insulation, sealing
  2. Insulation, cables, wires, pipes
  3. Flooring, containers, beverage bottles
  4. Windows, doors, buildings, furniture
  5. Tires, accessories, water tanks, switches
  6. Clothes, cloth, blankets
  7. Soap, resin, varnish, adhesives
  8. Tableware, toys

Although criticism can and must be made about the careless use of plastics, as a company we are proud to play our part in making accurate and inexpensive plastic components.

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