1862- Parkesine is discovered! Alexander Parkes invented one of the earliest forms of plastic. Cellulose nitrate was the basic substance of Parkes’s creation. Cotton fiber or wood flour was dissolved in nitric and sulfuric acids. It was then mixed with vegetable oils and the combination made a dough which could be textured and painted. This discovery led to many different products; knife handles, combs, plaques, etc. In 1867 Parkes received recognition for his discovery at the International Exhibition in London.
1863- The first industrial plastic is produced. John Wesley Hyatt simplified the process for creating a product called celluloid. He also formed a company called the Albany Dental Plate Company which produced billiard balls, false teeth, and piano keys. This Celluloid Manufacturing Company was established in 1872.
1872- PVC is created! Eugan Baumann creates a polymer that appeared initially as a white solid, this solid formed inside vinyl chloride gas that was exposed to sunlight. The material was difficult to work with; however, this material later is developed into what we now know as PVC. PVC has many uses today; initially it was used to replace the traditional material to insulate wiring on military ships. PVC has helped many industries grow including Healthcare, IT, Transportation, and Construction just to name a few.
1894- Rayon is manufactured through the viscose multi step process; this is the first manufactured synthetic fiber. This process was developed by Charles Frederick Cross and his colleague Edward John Vevan. Cellulose is prepared from wood pulp or cotton linters, then it is treated with sodium hydroxide and then with carbon disulfide. The result of this process is a substance called cellulose xanthate. This substance is dissolved in sodium hydroxide and forms a thick solution called viscose. Rayon is produced in the form of fine strands. This product is used in the creation of yarn, fabric, and even high performance tires.