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  » Thermoplastics and History


Polymer is a large molecule which is formed by a covalent bond made from small molecules called monomer. In the nature, there are lots of organic and inorganic polymers. And also there are lots of other polymers, which are created artificially in the laboratories.

Today, these artificial polymers are used for many industrial products. As an example, PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) and PU (poly urethane) are the most suitable polymers for our industry. When they are heated to temperatures above the glass transition temperature, they become softer and can be processed. After they are cooled, they become as hard as desired. However, if you heat the polymers,  they become soft again and you can use it for a second time. So you can reuse them as many times as you like.


Some of the important first year of production of polymers:


1930 Styrene-butadiene rubber
1936 Poly(vinyl chloride)
1936 Polychloroprene (neoprene)
1936 Poly(methyl methacrylate)
1936 Poly(vinyl acetate)
1937 Polystyrene
1939 66-Nylon
1941 Polytetrafluoroethylene
1942 Unsaturated polyesters
1943 Polyethylene, branched
1943 Butyl rubber
1943 6-Nylon
1943 Silicones
1944 Poly(ethylene terephthalate)
1947 Epoxies
1948 ABS resins
1955 Polyethylene, linear
1956 Polyoxymethylene
1957 Polypropylene
1957 Polycarbonate
1964 lonomer resins
1965 Polyimides
1970 Thermoplastic elastomers
1974 Aromatic polyamides



• Firstly in the History, The Indians started with covering their feet with liquid rubber from the rubber plant, which becomes solid after it contacts with oxygen. However, this solid structure was a special. This rigid structure had small molecules which were moving inside and was behaving like a fishing net. Therefore, this structure acts as partially liquid and partially solid. This material is named as rubber. However, in the past, these rubber shoes were just for one day. Although the molecules were bind to each other due to the oxygen, after a while, oxygen began to cut the chains and the shoes were going into pieces in one day.

• In the year 1400, Chinese people made an umbrella from a wax dipped fabric. This was the first application of the process which is called “ direct coating”. The idea of covering the fabric with another material to make it stronger started like that.


• The polymer`s parents such as PVC and PU which we stil use today are made by Charles Goodyear in 1849. Goodyear produced Libonit which is vulcanized rubber with sulfur. In 1849, Charles Goodyear boiled rubber tree juice with sulfur and he got a flexible, strong and very dark coloured material. This invention is still in production, but in those years, the concept of polymer has not been known yet.
• The first product of the second largest group of polymers was a semi-synthetic polymer  which was made with cotton cellulose, nitric acid and camphor produced by John Wesley Hyatt in 1868.


• Measuring tape was produced by Direct Coating process in Italy in 1900. Germans produced the first U-boat model during World War I. But it was very weak against external factors.


• Between the years 1920-1930, the German chemist H. Staudinger has put forward the hypothesis of “Macromolecule”  and he proved it experimentally. After this date polymer chemistry made a revolution in the whole world.
• In 1960’s, people started to talk about a structure which contains both fabric and plastic properties. The surface seemed like natural leather but the stability was provided by the fabric. During these years, "transfer coating" method appeared. The transfer papers, which were used those days, were only durable up to 100 º C. Due to the development at technology and materials, artificial leather applications took its present form.
         Perhaps many of us never thought that our shoes are made from polymer. Some of them has different leather, some of them has soft base. Leather is a natural polymer material. Most of the hiking boots`s base are made from polyurethane. Some of them has PVC in the structure and sometimes we use products made of nylon. Most of the clothes we wear are made from wool, cotton (cellulose), natural or artificial polymeric materials, polyacrylonitrile (artificial silk), and etc&hellip

There are lots of other polymeric materials to be used in the sea too, such as; chloroprene and polyurethane products.



         Today, the producing packages for preservation and transportation is a major market. If you enter a supermarket you can clearly see that. Almost all of the products are packaged and most of the packages are prepared from polymeric materials. We use these kind of materials in our homes, too, which are made from polypropylene, nylon, polyester or polyethylene.

For  Children's water-resistant pads, polyethylene or natural rubber materials are used. But perhaps the most important part of the pad is the part with polyacrylic acid. This material can absorb more water than its own weight. In shampoos there is Hidroksietilselüloz and in hair sprays there is polivinilprolidon.    

• Photography, EYEWEAR AND LENSES:
         Photo papers used to be made of selüloznitrat. Later, this easily burned paper is replaced by cellulose acetate, and then it was changed again to polyester. Tough and transparent color filters, which we use today, are made from polycarbonate.
Eyewear glasses have been replaced by polycarbonate which is lighter and has refractive index. Polymethylmethacrylate is being used for contact lenses and most of the car lights are being prepeared by acrylate.



One of the most widely used building materials in our homes is the basic element of wood, cellulos and PVC is the most important element of the domestic water pipes.


Except electrical copper wires, almost everything is made of polymeric materials. PVC doors and windows are used because of the advantages of being a cheap material and good heat insulation


Silicons are used frequently to provide water tightness from cracks and holes.

Many polymeric products are used in home decoration and flooring, as well as carpets made of smudge-resistant politetrafloroetilenden. Acrylic latex paints contain Polymethylmethacrylate or sometime polyvinyl copolymer.


A modern car consists of 150 kg of polymer material except tires, rubber fibers, flooring and paint.


To reduce fuel consumption at planes, the usage of metal material is reduced and Polymeric materials are prefered because of lightness. They are lighter than metals and therefore require less fuel.    


If we examine the basic structure from single-celled organisms to multicellular organisms we can see that, the DNA or RNA consist of 20 aminoacid and phosphate bonds which ties the aminoacids together.Although the organism has more aminoacids than 20, still this diversity of living creatures are a result of the diversity of aminoacids confirmation. Also every part of a body is made of molecular structures. Therefore, the importance of polymers on tissue studies increases everyday.

When we mention about polymer usage at industry, we discussed only a little part of it. If we look carefully around us, we can see much more products made from polymers.

     The last word to emphasize the importance of polymer chemistry would be that, one-third of the budget allocated for researches is for the chemical research of polymer chemistry in United States.