Florida Plastics Projects

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History of the Modern Plastics Industry
Florida Plastics Projects
plasticsjournal
Look as far back as the Old Testament and your likely to find references to natural materials used as fillers, adhesives, coatings and the like. These materials were the forerunners of modern plastic materials. Historians don't agree on the exact year or decade in which the plastics industry began, but generally it is agreeed that the most important developments in the industry occurred in the early 20th century.

The roots of these modern developments, however, go back to the research of cellulose nitrate by John Wesley Hyatt in the 1860s, and beyond, including a variety of plastic-like compositions used by man through the centuries. Before plastic was developed, the closest product was probably vulcanite, a mixuture of natural rubber and sulphur. In 1862 at the Great Exibition in London, Engish inventor Alexander Parkes introduced a new material parkesine, which, unlike rubber (or Vulcanite), could be colored or transparent and could be carved into any shape.

Plastics appeared in the United States in the 1860s, when inventor John Wesley Hyatt developed a method for producing billard balls from materials other than ivory. His invention, named celluloid, was a commercial success and was used in knife handles, washable collars and cuffs, toys and table tennis balls.

The period of 1930-1940 saw the commercial development of today's modern thermoplastics: polyvinyl chloride, low density polyethene, polystyrene and polymethyl methacrylate. Then, with the onset of World War II in 1939, plastics came into great demand, largely as substitues for materials that were in short supply, such as natural rubber. In 1935, DuPont developed nylon
the world's first synthetic fiber. The first decade after World War II saw the development of polypropylene and high density polypropylene and the growth of those new plastics in many applications. Large-scale production of new materials began to compete with older plastics and even more traditional materials such as wood, paper, metal, glass and leather. Over the years, the demand for plastics has increased steadily.

Today, plastics are accepted by designers and engineers as basic materials along with the more traditional materials.

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