Since the dawn of history, the human species has sought to develop materials that offer benefits not found in nature. The development of plastics began with the use of natural materials that had intrinsic plastic properties, such as shellac and rubber.
It was at a later stage in the evolution of plastics that the chemical transformation of what were once natural plastics had to begin.
One of the first examples was the invention of Parkesina by Alexander Parkens in 1855, now known as celluloid.
Between 1838 and 1872, polyvinyl chloride, the common PVC, was polymerised.
A real revolutionary creation took place in 1907, when the chemist, Leo Baekeland, created Bachelite, made by condensation between phenol and formaldehyde, the first thermosetting resin of synthetic origin. This material has an amazing success, becoming for many years the most widespread and used plastic material.
The 1930s and the Second World War marked the definitive passage towards what is called the “Plastics Age”, with the creation of a real modern industry.
The 1950s saw the discovery of malamine-formaldehyde resins, which made it possible to produce laminates for the furnishing and moulding of tableware at low prices, while “synthetic fibres” (polyester and nylon) experienced their first boom, becoming the modern and practical alternative to natural ones.
It was the 1960s that saw the definitive emergence of plastic as an essential instrument of everyday life and a new frontier in fashion, design and art.
We cannot anticipate what will happen in the next 100 years, but we are sure that there are no limits for plastics!