The first plastic ever produced was called Parkesine. It was made in 1862 from cellulose by a British chemist, Alexander Parkes. It was made to look and feel like ivory. A few years later in 1865, John Wesley Hyatt made a kind of plastic for billiard balls. However they were not very successful, as they tended to explode when they hit each other. In 1870, Hyatt with his brother Isaiah patented their discovery of the celluloid.
Celluloid had many drawbacks but it resulted in several developments of this field. In 1907, Leo Baekland discovered the phenolic plastic. It was the first entirely synthetic material to be produced in large quantities. Since then many varieties of plastics have been invented.
There are many kinds of plastics now. Polythene is a very common kind of plastic used for making bags, sacks, pipes and buckets. Polypropylene is tougher and is used to make car parts and chairs. Polycarbonate is used for machine parts, helmets, compact discs and unbreakable windows.
Nylon and polyster are strong plastics that are often made into fibre for clothes, carpets and other textiles. Kevlar is even stronger than steel and is used to make bulletproof vests and parts of cars and planes. Teflon is the most modern of plastics invented. It is found everywhere form the non-stick pans in the kitchen to the spaceships and rockets. It has a unique property of being self lubricating. There are so many types of plastics and they are used in practically every field of life.
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