The Rise of Plastic

What did we ever do before plastic? After all, the synthetic material is not all that ancient.
“Plastic is so new, Freinkel began, that among all the objects preserved in the sunken Titanic, none are synthetic plastic, because there was hardly any available in 1912. Natural plastic, however, was a familiar material. Amber was popular. Rubber was essential (all plant cellulose is made of long-chain polymers). Ivory for everything from billiard balls to piano keys was in such high demand that an 1867 paper warned about the looming extinction of elephants. The first synthetic plastic—celluoid—was developed as a substitute for ivory, and the elephants survived.

Wired posted interesting excerpts from a talk by Susan Freinkel about the history of manufacturing objects of plastic. Link -via Boing Boing

(Image credit: Flickr user Tinker*Tailor loves Lalka)

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