The First Man-Made Plastic - Parkesine
The first man-made plastic was created by Alexander Parkes who publicly demonstrated it at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. The material called Parkesine was an organic material derived from cellulose that once heated could be molded and retained its shape when cooled.
Celluloid was derived from from cellulose and alcoholized camphor. John Wesley Hyatt invented celluloid as a substitute for the ivory in billiard balls in 1868. He first tried using collodion a natural substance, after spilling a bottle of it and discovering that the material dried into a tough and flexible film. However, the material was not strong enough to be used as a billiard ball, until the addition of camphor, a derivative of the laurel tree. The new celluloid could be molded with heat and pressure into a durable shape.
Besides billard balls, celluloid became famous as the first flexible photographic film used for still photography and motion pictures. John Wesley Hyatt created celluloid in a strip format for movie film. By 1900, movie film was an exploding market for celluloid.
Timeline - Precursors
- 1839 - Natural Rubber - method of processing invented by Charles Goodyear
- 1843 - Vulcanite - Thomas Hancock
- 1843 - Gutta-Percha - William Montgomerie
- 1856 - Shellac - Alfred Critchlow, Samuel Peck
- 1856 - Bois Durci - Francois Charles Lepag
Timeline - Beginning of the Plastic Era with Semi Synthetics
- 1839 - Polystyrene or PS discovered - Eduard Simon
- 1862 - Parkesine - Alexander Parkes
- 1863 - Cellulose Nitrate or Celluloid - John Wesley Hyatt
- 1872 - Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC - first created by Eugen Baumann
- 1894 - Viscose Rayon - Charles Frederick Cross, Edward John Bevan
Timeline - Thermosetting Plastics and Thermoplastics
- 1908 - Cellophane - Jacques E. Brandenberger
- 1909 - First true plastic Phenol-Formaldehyde tradenamed Bakelite - Leo Hendrik Baekeland
- 1926 - Vinyl or PVC - Walter Semon invented a plasticized PVC.
- 1927 - Cellulose Acetate
- 1933 - Polyvinylidene chloride or Saran also called PVDC - accidentally discovered by Ralph Wiley, a Dow Chemical lab worker.
- 1935 - Low-density polyethylene or LDPE - Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett
- 1936 - Acrylic or Polymethyl Methacrylate
- 1937 - Polyurethanes tradenamed Igamid for plastics materials and Perlon for fibers. - Otto Bayer and co-workers discovered and patented the chemistry of polyurethanes
- 1938 - Polystyrene made practical
- 1938 - Polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE tradenamed Teflon - Roy Plunkett
- 1939 - Nylon and Neoprene considered a replacement for silk and a synthetic rubber respectively Wallace Hume Carothers
- 1941 - Polyethylene Terephthalate or Pet - Whinfield and Dickson
- 1942 - Low Density Polyethylene
- 1942 - Unsaturated Polyester also called PET patented by John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson
- 1951 - High-density polyethylene or HDPE tradenamed Marlex - Paul Hogan and Robert Banks
- 1951 - Polypropylene or PP - Paul Hogan and Robert Banks
- 1953 - Saran Wrap introduced by Dow Chemicals.
- 1954 - Styrofoam the trademarked form of polystyrene foam insulation, invented by Ray McIntire for Dow Chemicals
- 1964 - Polyimide
- 1970 - Thermoplastic Polyester this includes trademarked Dacron, Mylar, Melinex, Teijin, and Tetoron
- 1978 - Linear Low Density Polyethylene
- 1985 - Liquid Crystal Polymers