What are plastics?

Plastics are compounds of vitreous or crystalline polymers and their additives. Plastic products are manufactured by processing these compounds.
Depending on change in properties during heating, plastics are classified into thermoplastics and thermosets.


The first plastics were derived more than 500 years ago.

  • In 1492, a Bavarian monk Wolfgang Seidel was the first to make a substitute for natural cattle horn based on the protein casein.
  • The method of producing plastics with improved properties from casein was patented in Germany in 1895.
  • In 1851, Nelson Goodyear, the brother of Charles Goodyear, the inventor of the vulcanization process for rubber, obtained ebonite, the first thermoset, from the natural rubber.
  • The first synthetic thermosets were invented by the American chemist Leo H. Baekeland.
  • The natural polymer was the raw material used for the first industrially produced thermosets.
  • In 1930 - 1931, widely used synthetic thermoplastics (Polystyrene (PS) and Polyvinylchloride) were first produced commercially by the German chemical industry conglomerate IG Farbenindustrie.

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