By Don “Doc” Sanders
Plastics are all around us. Cookware and eating utensils, toys and games, car and truck fenders, syringes, fence posts, single-use water bottles, signs, and even human anatomical parts made on 3-D printers. They’re all made of plastic.
We have Leo Baekeland, a brilliant, but eccentric, Belgian-born chemist, to thank for setting us on the course to our world of plastic. Experimenting with formaldehyde and phenol formulations, he invented, in 1907, the first type of plastic, which he named Bakelite. A solid heat-resistant product that could be molded into different shapes, it was used primarily for electrical equipment like telephones.
For his history-making invention, Baekeland landed on the cover of Time magazine. And for founding the first plastics company, the Bakelite Corporation, he became known as the Father of the Plastics Industry. The tagline for his company’s star product: “The Material of a Thousand Uses.”
Bakelite drew the kind of attention given today to innovations like cell phones, smartwatches and robotic machines.… Continue readingRead More »