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Pivotal Moments in The History of Plastic Injection Moulding

Man’s thirst for discovery and invention has no end. This fact is true in the case of Plastic Injection Moulding. The idea of injection moulding was first conceived in the 19th century, at a time when Parkesin was used to press plastic into moulds.

Parkesin was the first plastic discovered by Alexander Parkes. Although it seemed like a promising discovery, Parkesin was too expensive, brittle and caught fire easily.

It was in 1868 that the American inventor John Wesley Hyatt developed a plastic material which he christened Celluloid. Celluloid was a by-product of a process that combines cellulose nitrate and camphor. Hyatt was a brilliantly intuitive inventor who was often experimenting with a lot of mixtures. It was during one such experiment that he combined cellulose nitrate and camphor and poured the mixture into a steel billiard ball mould. The mould was heated and allowed to cool down. When the product was demoulded, Hyatt was amazed to see that he had created a perfect billiard ball out of Celluloid. Thus began the process of injection moulding.

In 1972, John Wesley Hyatt along with his brother Isaiah patented the first injection moulding machine that worked like a large hypodermic needle. Over the years, the brothers made a number of products like rubber dentures, collar stays, buttons and hair combs.

Closeup view of plastic injection moulding machine

The era of Leo Hendrick Baekeland

John Wesley Hyatt had successfully set the ball rolling for Plastic Injection Moulding. However, another pivotal era came along when Leo Hendrick Baekeland of Belgium discovered phenol-formaldehyde plastic. Originally called Bakelite, Baekeland was the first person to control it and use the substance for large scale production. Being a chemist, Baekeland revolutionized the field by discovering the molecular structure of polymers. The era of Baekeland was a golden one. Apart from his contribution to injection moulding, he also developed Velox, a type of photographic paper that was instrumental in the growth of Kodak Eastman.

  • Other players in the field of injection moulding: The 1930s to the mid-1940s saw major developments in the field of thermoplastics. It was during this period that PVC, polystyrene, and polyolefins were developed. Industrial giants like ICI and Dow played prominent roles in driving the popularity of thermoplastics. In 1939, the Second World War created a massive demand for cheap, mass-produced plastic materials. General Electric and Du Pont also played a major role in manufacturing and marketing Polycarbonate and Acetal Homopolymer respectively.
  • The era of James Watson Hendry

    When American inventor James Watson Hendry built the first screw injection moulding machine, it completely revolutionized and boosted what was a lull period in the plastic industry. With the screw injection machine, colouring and pre-mixing became a possibility that allowed mass production of identical plastic products. Even today, Hendry’s idea of using screws to efficiently heat, mix and inject molten plastics into moulds is being followed by more than 95% of the manufactures.

  • James Watson Hendry’s contribution: A boon to any injection moulding company

    Hendry’s most significant contribution to the plastic industry came when he developed the first gas-assisted injection moulding process later on in the 1970s. With this invention, he made it possible to complex hollow plastic articles that cooled down quickly. This contribution was a big boon to the fast-growing industry as it not only cut down the cost, wastage and the production time but also vastly improved the design flexibility and strength.

Also Read: Plastic injection moulding: A Brief Introduction To The Past

Plastic Injection Moulding in The Modern Days

From the time of its inception, there never has been a dull moment in the history of plastic injection moulding. Inventors have been constantly at work, trying to come up with methods that are more productive and efficient than the previous one.

Several monumental moments in history have also contributed to the dependency of plastics over oil and other materials. There was a time when plastic production overtook steel production in the late 1970s.

Currently, in India, the plastic sector generates revenue of billions of crores every year, with almost 20 million metric tonnes in production. The fundamental principles of production remain unchanged, despite the gargantuan changes in machines and moulds. The processes followed today are faster, more consistent, versatile and flexible.

Techplaastic: The top injection moulding company in India

Techplaastic is one of the most revolutionary plastic industries in India that produces unique and bespoke plastic products using injection moulding. We specialize in all kinds of customization with plastic injection moulding. Call us @ 919840247472 for more details.

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