There’s no denying that plastics are integrated into pretty much every part of our daily lives. Here at UniTherm, the plastics industry makes up a huge part of our business – so we thought it only fitting to do a little digging into the most significant advances in plastics.
1862—At the Great International Exhibition in London, Alexander Parkes demonstrates an organic material derived from cellulose that when heated, molded, and cooled can retain an entirely new shape.
1868—Celluloid is used as a substitute for ivory in billiard balls.
1872—The Hyatt brothers patent the first plastics injection molding machine.
1880—Cellulose nitrate replaces horn in hair combs.
1890—Thermoforming is developed and used to make babies rattles and teething rings from cellulose nitrate.
1892—British chemists develop viscose silk (rayon).
1900—Swiss chemist develops cellophane.
1910—Stockings made of rayon are manufactured in Germany.
1915—At the British Industries Fair, Queen Mary admires casein products and orders several pieces of jewelry made from it.
1916—Rolls Royce begins to use phenol formaldehyde in its car interiors.
1926 – Eckert & Ziegler patent first commercial modern plastics injection molding machine.
1930—3M invents Scotch tape, the first transparent sticky tape.
1935—Wallace H. Carothers develops nylon at DuPont.
1937—Italian and German engineers produce the first twin-screw extruder machine.
1938 – First toothbrush with nylon tufts is manufactured.
1940—PVC is produced in the UK.
1942—Dr. Harry Coover at Eastman Kodak discovers Super Glue.
1945—Sqezy plastic bottles begin to replace glass bottles for shampoos and soaps.
1948—Swiss engineer invents Velcro.
1949—Tupperware made from low-density polyethylene launched in the US.
1949—Joseph Strivers develops Lycra at DuPont.
1950s—The polyethylene bag is introduced.
1956—The first commercially successful car with an entire glass-reinforced-plastic body goes on sale in the UK.
1957—The Wham-O Toy Company creates the Hula Hoop.
1958—Lego produces pegged blocks from cellulose acetate.
1959—At the American International Toy Fair, Mattel unveils the Barbie Doll.
1960s—Water-based acrylic paints are introduced.
1969—Neil Armstrong plants a nylon flag on the moon.
1973—PET (polyethylene terephthalate) beverage bottles are introduced.
1976—Plastics become the most used type of material in the world.
1979—The first commercial mobile phones introduced.
1979—The first PVC-U double-glazed windows installed.
1982—The first artificial heart made mainly of polyurethane is implanted in a human.
1983—The slim Swatch watch is made with 51 plastic components.
1988—Triangular recycling symbols are introduced.
1991—Dyson launches popular vacuum cleaner in Japan.
1994—A smart car is made with colored polycarbonate panels that are lightweight and flexible.
2001—Apple develops the iPod.
2009—Boeing nicknames a 747 “Boeing’s Plastic Dream” because 50% of the plane is made from plastic material.