Plastic Materials Close Up: Polyoxymethylene (POM), Acetal, Delrin®, and Celcon®

Polyoxymethylene (POM) is a thermoplastic materialalso known as acetal.  It is a molecule containing the functional group of carbon bonded to two –OR groups. POM was first discovered by German chemist Hermann Staudinger who won the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He had studied it in the 1920s but found it to be thermally unstable. DuPont synthesized a version and filed for patent protection of the homopolymer crediting R.N. MacDonald as the inventor. … Read more

Rubik’s Cube: How It’s Made and Solution Clues

Emo Rubik, a professor at the University of Budapest in Hungary, designed the now famous Rubik’s Cube in the mid-1970’s. It is made up of 26 smaller cubes and has six faces, each made up of nine different colors: red, yellow, blue, white, green and orange. His intention in designing it was to demonstrate to his students three-dimensional relationships. When he showed the prototype to his students, it was an instant hit not so much as a teaching tool but as a game. … Read more

How to Identify a Plastic Material Using the Burn Test

So you have a plastic part and you need to know what it is made of but you have no idea what plastic it is. This can be a challenging task. Many plastics look and feel alike but we will take a closer look here at some of the ways using a burn test. Please note, this test should be done in an industrial setting and not at home since proper safety protocol must be observed. … Read more

A Technical Look at Polymer Synthesis and Additives

Originally, plastic resins were made from vegetable matter including cellulose from cotton, furfural from oat hulls, oils from seeds and various starch derivatives. Bakelite (phenol formaldehyde resin), one of the first plastics made from synthetic components, was developed by Belgian born chemist Leo Backeland in New York in 1907. Bakelite is made through an elimination reaction of phenol with formaldehyde. It was originally lused for its electrical non-conductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, … Read more

How Is Nylon Made?

For centuries, inventors tried to create a “synthetic silk.” In the early 1880’s, Sir Joseph Swan
experimented with forming threads by dissolving the inner bark of mulberry trees. Although Swan did realize that fabric could be woven from this material, he never pursued this application as he was mainly interested in finding a filament for Thomas Edison’s light bulbs. It was not until 1889 that the French chemist Count Hilaire de Chardonnet developed rayon or “artificial silk,” which he introduced at the Paris Exhibition. … Read more