Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, is a commonly used synthetic plastic polymer that is used to produce plastic. While it wasn’t widely used until the 1950s, it has actually been around for centuries, stretching back all the way to the 1830s. Read on to learn more:
The discovery of PVC
The story peculiarly begins in two separate years—1838 and 1872—when French physicist Henri Victor Regnault and German chemist Eugen Baumann respectively discovered PVC for the first (and second) time. Neither followed up on the breakthrough, but on both occasions the polymer materialized as a “white solid” within flasks filled with vinyl chloride gas.
Friedrich Heinrich August Klatte
Following these independent discoveries, no one actually mastered the use of PVC in commercial applications until 1913, when a German inventor by the name of Friedrich Heinrich August Klatte decided to take out the first patent on the material. His polymerization method of vinyl chloride used sunlight, and over the next few decades companies around the world began experimenting where Klatte’s patent seemed to leave off.
Industrial use for PVC
Around the early 20th century, B.F. Goodrich hired industrial scientist Waldo Semon to develop a novel, synthetic alternative for the increasingly expensive natural rubber, but these experiments were shelved due to the Depression. That’s when Semon had an incredible idea: using PVC as a water-resistant coating for fabrics. Soon enough, sales of the material rapidly took off, with demand peaking at the start of World War II, when it was adopted as an insulator for wiring on military ships.
A turn to vinyl
By the 1950s, PVC production was soaring around the world. Companies began testing out revolutionary uses for ‘vinyl’ PVC, finding new applications for the material in inflatable structures and fabric coatings. The construction industry soon welcomed the durable plastic, in large part due to its resistance to light, chemicals, and corrosion, which made it a prime commodity for building structures.
Here at Piper Plastics, we have been processing PVC for over 50 years. To learn more about our dip molding/coating services, contact us today.