The Plastic Story
Have you ever buy something without getting plastic materials? Unless you buy fried food in the border of a road, it’s a bit rare to buy something without getting plastic as it cover. Human and plastic have a long history. The Egyptians has used resins, natural plastics, to varnish their sarcophagi, and the Greeks made jewellery out of amber.
Although plastic have a long history, its broad using was just started on the mid-nineteenth century. Before that time, the use of plastic is restricted to luxury and fancy goods, ranging from shellac-lacquered (natural plastic) scent boxes to ivory jewellery. Plastic broad using has caused a new problem. The specific location of shellac and rubber led several chemists and industrialists to perceive an imminent scarcity of natural plastics. A new invention of plastic materials was introduced by Alexander Parkes in a meeting of the Royal Society of Arts in 1865. He named the material, Parkesine which made of modified nitrocellulose.
Besides fulfilling the market demand of luxury consumer goods, plastic materials spread was also amplified with a smart business strategy. On several presentation in order to persuade inventors to put capital into his company, Parker promote Parkesine as a “works of art” and not it uses for making carding, roving, or insulating telegraphic wires. To expand his business, Parker tries to make his materials as cheap as possible, and multi-purpose. Unfortunately, his willingness to make Parkesine multi-purpose has caused the material doesn’t have a specific formula and quality inconsistency. Parkesine lack ness has caused the Parkesine Company was liquidated in 1868.
The plastic history found it momentum in 1907, when Baekeland patents his invention of Bakelite. Baekeland research was carried out a long systemic investigation to study all the different factors bearing on the condensation reaction, not as his predecessor that use a familiar problem-solving strategies of the electrochemical engineering frame. He found three phases in the reaction, and if he stops the reaction after the first and second phases, he was enabling to manipulate the molding mass before the final phases.
The plastic story shows us that plastic spread was influenced by people that are not only a researcher but also an entrepreneur. It’s also leave an open question of plastic uses, after art, making carding, roving, insulating telegraphic wires, etc, can it uses be more extended, or in contrary, be minimize?