Category Archives: Plastics History

What Are Polymers?

What Are Polymers? What Polymers Occur In Nature?

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POLYMER: a chemical compound that is made of small molecules that are arranged in a simple repeating structure to form a larger molecule.

DNA, genetic sign, elements and icons collection

DNA, genetic sign, elements and icons collection

Naturally Occurring Polymers

To know what a polymer structure looks like, think of a chain with many links connected together. In nature our own DNA is an excellent example. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid)  is a molecule that carries the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms. The diversity of how these chains link mean polymers exhibit a very broad range of properties making them an essential and vital piece in everyday life, no matter where we look.

How Are Polymers Created?

Polymers are created through chemical reactions known as polymerizations, and most polymers are made via just two basic reaction types.

Polymerization Type #1 – Condensation polymerization.

Condensation polymerizations occur when two monomers react to yield a repeat unit (a chain) and then along the way they lose small molecules as by-products such as water or methanol. In plastics one example of condensation polymerization is polyamide that comes from monomers with carboxylic acids and basic amines. A polyamide is a macromolecule with repeating units linked by amide bonds. In our business of engineered plastics we often think of DuPont Vespel®, a specialized engineered plastic. On the other end, naturally occurring polyamides are also the proteins that make up wool and silk.

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Synthetic Polyamides and the Birth of Nylon

Wallace Hume Carothers (April 27, 1896 – April 29, 1937) was an American chemist. He is most noted as the inventor of nylon, one of the most widely used and known plastics throughout the world because of is many forms and uses.

Carothers was the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont when he made the first nylon to be a synthetic replacement for silk. Most people also know this is where nylon stockings became popular as silk went into short supply, but nylon was so successful that it replaced many different products after silk became scarce during World War II. Most noted nylon was used in military applications such as parachutes and flak vests. After initial the commercialization of nylon as a fiber, applications in the form of shapes and films were also developed with demand.  Industries as diverse as packaging, electrical and electronics, consumer goods, appliances, and automotive are just a few of the areas that developed applications for nylon plastic in various forms.

Polymerization Type #2 – Chain-Growth Polymerization

Chain growth polymerization occurs when a monomer forms a molecule with an unpaired electron. The free radical reacts quickly with another monomer and causes a repeat unit with another free radical. A rapid chain reaction continues bringing about the polymerization, and the polymer chain continues to grow longer.

One example of a synthetic polymer made through a chain-growth polymerization is polystyrene, a polymer commonly found in disposable drinking cups. It is interesting to note that the original discovery of this polymer dates all the way back to 1839 by Eduard Simon.  As a traveling member of AIN Plastic Business Development I rely heavily on this synthetic polymerization… Since the discovery of this polymerization process, the advancements have been ever changing in the industry of materials like engineered plastics. For example, polystyrene itself comes in forms from clear and hard to a foam version invented by DOW in 1941. The end result simply depends on the particular catalyst and chemicals selected to create polymerization process.

Chemists have discovered new catalysts and developed new synthetic chains to join small molecules into long polymer chains with the right properties for almost any particular use….only time will tell what comes next, and I for one, can’t wait to see.

Montague-Sml-DSC_0304Kendall Montague
Industry Segment Manager, Oil and Gas

thyssenkrupp Materials NA
AIN Plastics Division

M: +1 (314) 502-0813, : +1 (877) 246-7700, Kendall.Montague@thyssenkrupp.com

See our catalog online at www.onlineplastics.com

Kendall Montague is a veteran of the plastics industry with 16+ years experience working with OEM and MRO engineers assisting in developing thermoplastics material selection as well as custom design and fabrication using CNC equipment.

Active Member with the Energy & Polymer Group – Houston
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Sources for this article:

Introduction to Polymers  R.J. Young Chapman

Market Studies- Ceresena

Meriam Webster-dictionary

wikipedia

The History of Cellophane

iStock_000041386120_FullMany of the types of plastics we use each day have surprisingly interesting histories and stories of creation. As consumers we often don’t think about the type of plastic we are using or how it came to be. Was it created intentionally or by accident? Is it still used today for its original purpose? What is its effect on us? These are the kinds of questions we don’t typically think to ask, and we are actually missing out on fascinating history because of it.

wine spill 1Take cellophane for example. Cellophane has come a long way since its original creation in 1908 by Swiss chemist Jacques E. Brandenberger. The material was actually created as a result of a failed experiment by Brandenberger when he was originally trying to create a waterproof tablecloth. The story goes that Brandenberger was eating at a restaurant when he watched someone spill a glass of wine onto the nice tablecloth at their table. After seeing all the work and time this one spilled glass caused, it inspired him to create something that would repel liquids instead of absorb them. He set out to create this new type of tablecloth but was dismayed when he realized using viscose to spray a waterproof coating on fabric was too stiff.

But, with this failure came a realization: although the coated fabric was too stiff, it produced a clear film which easily separated from the backing cloth. He began exploring new possibilities with this great discovery. After ten years of research and experimenting, Brandenberger was able to create the waterproof material that was eventually named “cellophane.” “Cello” comes from the material used to create cellophane, cellulose, and “phane” comes from the French word for transparent, “diaphane.” With this creation Brandenburger also invented a machine that could manufacture cellophane in 1912. This marked the beginning of cellophane’s great potential and did not go unnoticed for long.

Cellophane was first used in the U.S. by Whitman’s Candy Company in 1912, shortly after the creation of Brandberger’s manufacturing machine. Whitman’s used the plastic for candy wrappers, and was the largest user of imported cellophane from France until 1924. It was in 1924 that cellophane received even greater attention by one of America’s leading plastics companies, DuPont.wine spill 2

DuPont saw the potential in cellophane and acquired U.S. patent rights in 1923 to begin production in Buffalo, New York. Although cellophane was waterproof it was not vapor-proof, meaning it was impossible to use for food packaging since moisture could still collect inside the cellophane. DuPont hired chemist William Hale Charch to solve this problem, and four years later, he did. Now that cellophane was both waterproof and moisture-proof it could be used for food packaging, which is exactly what it was used for then and still is today.

With the invention of moisture-proof cellophane came great benefits for DuPont, including a tripling in the material’s sales between 1928 and 1930. In 1938 cellophane accounted for ten percent of DuPont’s sales and twenty-five percent of its profits, making it one of their best selling products.

DuPont is well known for many other materials and products besides cellophane. Materials we use every day come from DuPont, such as nylon, artificial leather, ammonia, and rayon. Then there are the materials used in very specific applications that also come from DuPont, like Kevlar, the bulletproof material used in police vests. Another material used in specific applications is DuPont Vespel, a polyamide with a unique combination of properties that makes it ideal for aerospace and other highly specialized uses.

DuPont’s products are even more interesting when their history is known. Because of this, DuPont created several pages on their website dedicated to telling the stories of their various products, going all the way back to 1802, the very beginning of DuPont. To learn more about the history of DuPont’s products, check out http://www.dupont.com/corporate-functions/our-company/dupont-history.html.

For more on DuPont Vespel, visit their website.

For more on Jaques E. Brandenburger visit this site.

 

DSC_0138About Alyssa Warner

Alyssa Warner will be a senior at Judson University this fall. She is studying Graphic Design and has completed three internships in her field of study. Alyssa has interned at Kensington Church, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and thyssenkrupp Materials NA AIN Plastics Division.

Learn more about AIN Plastics and the family of thyssenkrupp Materials North America on our website. www.ainplastics.com and for a catalog of the engineered plastics and other products thyssenkrupp Materials NA AIN Plastics sells please visit onlineplastics.com or join us on social media for the latest in plastics news and more.

Jerry Lane Retires from AIN Plastics

In a time when the average person holds approx. 10 different jobs throughout their career the plastics industry stands out. It is often said that plastics chooses you and once you start working in plastics you stay in the business. For AIN Plastic’s Jerry Lane that has been a very true statement, but after a lifetime in plastics distribution Jerry Lane is saying ‘bon voyage’ and heading into what we all hope will be a long and happy retirement.

I sat down with Jerry and chatted with him about his time in the plastics industry and how it lead to a lifelong career with the majority of those years being at AIN Plastics.

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A Memento of the original AAA Plastics Supply

One of the first things we talked about is what has been the biggest change Jerry has seen in the plastics industry at large. After graduating Babson College in Wellesley 20 miles west of Boston Jerry joined the Coast Guard Reserves and was accepted into a Masters Degree program. 1966 Jerry went to work for his father who had a small plastics distribution company called AAA Plastics Supply. In 1985 this company merged with AIN Plastics which had 5 locations and was looking to expand and AAA Plastics Supply was a good fit. It was in Boston and then Norwood for 16 years before settling in Canton which is the current AIN location. Jerry reminisced that this past Washington’s birthday was the 31st anniversary of agreeing to the terms with Norman and Alex (The original A and N in AIN Plastics) to merge his family’s business with AIN Plastics. On April 19 of that year the formal agreement was signed and he began with AIN. Jerry feels this type of merger has been the biggest change overall in the industry. “There has been a huge consolidation of independent distributors. 30 years ago there were many small entrepreneurs. Now there are fewer but larger.” Jerry went on to add “Most manufacturers were also domestic, now the majority of suppliers are foreign-based companies.”

Jerry also noted one other major change has certainly been the Internet. “The ability to search online has provided the ability to make people smarter. There are so many resources out there. People research and shop differently now.”

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Jerry Lane working the phones at AAA Plastics Supply which became part of AIN Plastics.

One of the things that differentiated AIN Plastics during this time period was it’s internal structure and catalog systems. Jerry explained that AIN Plastics relied on a robust outcall program. He said one of Norman Drucker’s favorite sayings was, “if you aren’t taking a call you are making a call!” In the days before Internet AIN Plastics also managed a large catalog business with separate catalogs for different industries. The largest of these catalogs was a school catalog that was mailed to every school in the country, primarily to shop programs that would teach machining of plastics, metals and other materials. They also had a catalog that went out to distributors. As part of the catalog system one thing that has not changed is AIN Plastics was, and is, known for having strong inventory and fast shipping. The merging with thyssenkrupp Materials NA has only strengthened this aspect of AIN by becoming part of the thyssenkrupp nationwide logistics system.

When asked about what job he held at AIN Plastics Jerry says there have been many. Jerry says he started at the very beginning sweeping floor and doing warehouse work, but as he gained knowledge and experience Jerry has ended with a well balanced and broad career including time in:

• Corporate Operations and Management
• Corporate Quality
• Sales
• Freight and Logistics

Out of all those things, Jerry said one of the most gratifying times was on a recent trip to the AIN Plastics Yonkers facility. The team brought in a retirement cake and Inside Sales Representative George Marotta told Jerry we all wouldn’t be here is it wasn’t for the 2.5 years Jerry worked at our branch.

Of course no retirement chat would be complete without asking the question – What are you most looking forward to? After all, it’s the question we all ask ourselves about retirement or winning the lottery. For Jerry he says the first thing is to enjoy the city he and his wife and family have been a part of for so many years. “The first thing is site seeing beginning with Boston, and enjoying time with our new Grandchild due in just a short time. This will be our 2nd grandchild and first grandson.”

After that Jerry said in all his years of travel for work he has been to all of the AIN Plastics branches except TX and Missouri, “but I have not spent time in the actual cities so we plan to tour the US and enjoy being tourist travelers.”

Lastly we talked about what Jerry will miss the most. He said the AIN people are such a big part of his life and that will be what he misses the most. He went on to say, “I have a couple of projects that I know I won’t get to see finished that I know will be really good for company so I really will miss seeing those to their completion. But, there will always be those projects because it’s a part of our future and how we are growing.”

From here, Jerry will be handing over the logistics portion of his job to Lydia Gonzalez who has worked with Jerry for 24+ years. Jyoti Gorur will expand her Financial Analyst job to include some reports Jerry did as well and Debbie Shunk will take on R&A items so everyone will be in good hands.

 

Best Wishes to you Jerry!

and to everyone else –

See you in the blogosphere again soon

 

Lisa Anderson

Marketing Manager
ThyssenKrupp Materials, NA
AIN Plastics Division


lisa_anderson_001CroppedAbout Lisa Anderson

Ms. Anderson has been ThyssenKrupp Materials AIN Plastics Division for over 4 years. She brings 20+ years of advertising, award winning graphic design, social media and marketing. She has worked in book publishing, advertising agencies, printing, manufacturing, and the apartment industry. Ms. Anderson has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI.

AIN Plastics Renews with DuPont for Vespel

In 1993, AIN Plastics was appointed E.I. DuPont’s first national distributor of Vespel® polyamide stock shapes, one of the industries most sophisticated materials. This month thyssenkrupp Materials NA AIN Plastics Division is proud to be continuing its relationship with DuPont, and now DOW with its renewal of the distribution agreement to continue as the Authorized Vespel® Stock Shapes Distributor for the Eastern half of the US and Canada. DuPont™ Vespel® continues to be the material of choice for high performance applications and it remains unmatched for its unique combination of properties achieved through DuPont’s proprietary Isostatic Molding Process. As for AIN Plastics, we have finalized and agreed upon an extension of our Distribution Agreement with DuPont.

Changes in the Plastics Business make Front page news!

As the Sales and Marketing Manager for DuPont™ Vespel® Authentic Shapes for thyssenkrupp Materials NA AIN Plastics Division, I get to live and breathe High Performance Plastics.  DuPont™, who invented DuPont™ Vespel® as well as Teflon®, Delrin®, and a multitude of other Engineering Resins known throughout the world, has been a partner with thyssenKrupp MAterials AIN Plastics Division for over 30 years. Through that time frame we

Space ShuttleFlying In The Sky. 3D Scene.

have seen 5 US presidents, the era of the space shuttle, the invention of the Internet, and mobile phones going from the size of a shoebox to being a must-have business and personal communication and entertainment device that fits in our pocket.  Through all of this, steady as a rock, DuPont was DuPont.  Always a technical leader, always an innovation resource in engineering plastics industry, DuPont materials and DuPont™ Vespel® are often considered the Gold Standard by which other plastics were measured.  So recently iStock_000060987992_Doublewhen the announcement that DuPont is merging with Dow was made it was an unexpected piece of news. But it is news that I look to as exciting.

What makes this announced merger of DuPont and DOW so exciting is the potential it brings to the table for more innovation.  This acquisition is called a “merger of equals” for good reason. Dow has a long history of technical advances in the Polyethylene business as well as other performance plastic families.  Meanwhile DuPont has been the leader in nylons and acetals stock shapes and injection molding materials.  I can only imagine what kind of new products these two technical companies and their extensive teams will dream up once they are together.

We will of course be watching as this proposed merger makes it’s way through all the legal channels and we look forward to the future with the new combined DOW DuPont. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions and I will be more than happy to help. To give you more information I’ve added a few links below to new and press releases about the DOW DuPont merger.

 

Press Release Regarding the DOW / DuPont Merger

The Washington Post Takes a look at DOW DuPont Merger and Company histories

USA Today DOW DuPont Merger News and Video

 

Photo-Hanson-DSC_0295Paul Hanson

Industry Segment Manager, DuPont™ Vespel®
thyssenkrupp Materials NA
AIN Plastics Division

Blog contributor Paul Hanson has been active in the Sales and Marketing of Engineering Plastics for over 20 years.  From Aerospace to Semicon, Paul’s expertise has been valuable to his customers and a key resource in specifying High Performance materials in demanding applications.

 

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Connect with Paul on LinkedIn

email Paul Hanson at: paul.hanson@thyssenkrupp.com

Hula Hoops and Plastics in History

‘Tis the season when many of us celebrate a holiday that involves a wish list and gifts. Reflecting back on the Hula Hoop, a favorite of the past can remind us of how to enjoy the kid that resides in all of us.

What’s on your wish list this year? In 1957 one favorite was the Hula Hoop. But before the plastic hoops became popular they had a long, long history. Plastic hoops were made by Toltoys after production of bamboo hoops couldn’t keep up with demand in Australia. Stories say that Wham-O heard about the Aussie phenomenon and began making colorful polyethylene hoops in the U.S. The original Hula-Hoops cost just $1.98 each. (Today they cost from around $5.00 and up depending on the style.) The initial blast of popularity was short-lived but the Hula-Hoop continues on.

In the 1960’s, much to the dismay of parents hoping for quiet toys, small ball bearings were added so you got the cool shoop shoop noise with every swing. (My first one was semi-translucent hot pink!) In 1980 there was even a nationwide championship where contestants brought out their best Hula Hoop moves. Some of the moves included: The Knee Knocker, Wrap the Mummy, and The Stork.
Today Hula Hoops come in many sizes and even weights. They are used as a workout aid, a dog agility test, and we see them in dance, art, and yup – the backyard.

 

But that leads to one last question – how did the Hula Hoop get it’s name?

Pre-Hula HoopLong before the Aussie craze hoops were popular toys in Great Britain. In addition to seeing how long they could keep a hoop going around their waist, boys and girls happily chased hoops in races to see who could keep their hoop rolling the longest distance. The story behind the name is that sailors, coming back from the Hawaiian Islands thought the movement needed to keep a hoop going around the waist looked a lot like the lovely Hula dancers they saw during their travels. Hence the name Hula Hoop was born. Oh, and that movement actually caused them to be banned in Japan for awhile. It was seen as a little too racy.

I hope the Hula Hoop memories and history bring you the inspiration to be a kid again this holiday season. We also hope you’ll share what’s on your wish list.

See you in the blogosphere again soon!

Lisa Anderson

Marketing Manager
ThyssenKrupp Materials, NA
AIN Plastics Division

www.ainplastics.com

for more on hoops and their history see these online blogs and articles as well:

http://www.hulahooping.com/history.html

http://inventors.about.com/od/hstartinventions/a/Hula_Hoop.htm

for more about the material polyethylene:

http://ainplastics.com/ainp/Products/CorrosionResistantMaterials/index.html?q=polyethylene

 

 

 

 

 

How Tribology Led to the use of DuPont™ Vespel®

Tribology is based on the Greek word for “rubbing, grinding”, or “wearing away”. It’s study has lead to advances in material selection for high load applications such as bearings. Plastic materials such as DuPont™ Vespel® have been key in reducing friction and adding cost savings in the long run.

Tribology is a highly pervasive occurrence that can cause parts to have a much shorter life. So pervasive that it became a study all it’s own. In 1964, Peter Jost, a lubrication expert was inspired during a conference and out of this he began an entire discipline around tribology. You can learn more about Professor Jost in this interview Today we have many lubricants that range from the natural to the synthetic. They can all help to reduce friction. Thanks to the world of plastics we also have some materials like DuPont™ Vespel® that provide vast improvements beyond lubricants These new polyimide materials allow engineers to create parts and machinery they never thought possible and to greatly improve the efficiency and life of those parts.

We can thank the discipline of tribology for longer part life.

We can thank the discipline of tribology for longer part life.

Just think, if you had asked for a 10 year / 100,000 mile warranty 20 years ago the sales person would have laughed for a very good long time. Now, it’s the standard thanks in part to the discipline of tribology and new materials like Vespel. Due to their properties materials like DuPont™ Vespel® have found their way into commercial transportation industries, medical, food processing and manufacturing of all types. They simply have a unique combination of properties that makes them highly durable even under the harshest conditions.

Plastic materials are making a big difference in our ability to reduce friction and cost due to reduced wear and less need for lubrication and maintenance.

DuPont™ Vespel® has been a marvel of the plastics industry for decades. Now the SCP family of materials has been added to help with extended part life in sealing and bearing applications. It is most noted for it’s ability to be used in non-lubricated high-friction environments because of it’s exceptional heat and pressure resistance capabilities. The SCP 5009 material in particular performs well with or without lubrication under conditions that would cause severe wear or destruction of most other plastics. SCP 5009 is often used in bearing applications because it will reduce or eliminate problems with abrasion, corrosion, adhesion fatigue, and wear that plague conventional options such as metal bearings. Addition of a lubricant can improve performance even more!

Technical Properties of DuPont™ Vespel® SCP 5009

 

Technical Data for DuPont Vespel SCP 5009

Technical Data for DuPont Vespel SCP 5009

(Technical data provided by DuPont)

Using DuPont™ Vespel® SCP-5009 shapes for seals, valves, bearings, bushings, and other components can mean savings due to lower replacement rates which leads to reduced maintenance costs. It’s also easy to machine. Most Vespel can be machined on the same equipment used for metals like brass. (See our video on machining techniques) and that can mean fewer rejects, higher productivity and reliability.

Key industries that have studied tribology and found that DuPont™ Vespel® SCP-5009 shapes can offer substantial processing, performance and metals replacement advantages include analytical instrumentation, medical devices, aerospace and energy and material handling.

In a comparison to metal ball, needle and roller bearings, a part made from high temperature material like DuPont™ Vespel® SCP-5009 has advantages that include:

• No external lubrication
• The ability to hold up in temperature where lubricants fail
• Perform in dirty environments including dusty or where lint is present
• They typically weigh less and are quieter
• Compared to porous metals, bronze and brass the wear life may be much greater
• Vespel holds up to high pressure and high velocity
• Creep resistance

In addition, SCP 5009 can perform at temperatures and velocities beyond that of other plastic materials.

SCP 5009 is just one example but it’s one that shows how, thanks to the discipline of tribology, plastics are becoming more mainstream in manufacturing and it’s not due to a short term gain of cheaper material. Rather tribology has given us a longterm view of parts that looks at longer life, less maintenance and improved performance. Therein lies the true value and savings.

For more information on any of the information in this blog feel free to contact me.

Kendall Montague
Sales & Marketing Manager – DuPont™ Vespel®
ThyssenKrupp Materials NA
AIN Plastics Division

To ask me a question please comment on my post here or contact me directly:
Phone: (314) 502-0813
email: kendall.monatgue@thyssenkrupp.com

 

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