Friday, 25 April 2008


Although the generic term bakelite has become widely used to describe any thermosetting plastic material, there was also a trademark for the name when used to describe the specific material which was the real Bakelite (TM)

Bakelite, the world's first synthetic plastic, was developed between 1907 and 1909 by Leo Baekeland, a Belgian, by then living in the United States of America. When you see the spelling of his name, you get an idea where the inspiration for the name bakelite came from.

Dr Baekeland also made other inventions during his career as a research chemist, most notably he had already developed a photographic paper, for which he sold the patent to Eastman Kodak for a million dollars ($1,000,000)

The importance of Bakelite was that it was the first material which could be shaped when heated and which held this shape when cooled again, a property which became known as thermoplastic.

This greatly extended the scope for mass producing products and was effectively the dawning of the Age of Plastics.


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