Man's physical universe

xanabras

UNIT IX

SECTION 6

SYNTHETIC PLASTICS ARE OUTSTANDING EXAMPLES

OF "BETTER THINGS FOR BETTER LIVING"

Introduction.

A plastic, or resin, is a material that can be molded into some desired

shape. In the broadest sense these terms might include such materials

as iron or glass, but in actual usage they refer to such natural products

as rosin, gums, and amber, and to synthetic organic molding materials.

The first synthetic plastics were devised to replace such natural

materials as amber, paraffins, tar, bitumens, asphalts, rubber, rosin,

glue, shellac, gelatin, waxes, and copals. Thus celluloid was originally

devised as a substitute for ivory. Synthetic plastics have opened up

many new fields of usefulness in addition to those fields in which they

have displaced natural products. Today plastics are replacing natural

textile fibers such as silk or wool ; they are replacing metals and wood

in automobiles and airplane manufacture. In the building industry

their hardness, beauty, and resistance to chemical change recommend

them for many architectural purposes, from fireplace mantels to table

and counter tops, protective paints and varnishes, molded hardware,

and lighting fixtures.

Plastics decrease manufacturing costs because they can be molded

into shapes which would require many costly operations to obtain from

metals. The cast and laminated plastics can be easily turned and

machined, are light in weight, strong, and free from the corrosion

which is the enemy of metals. Their excellent insulating properties

render them invaluable in the manufacture of a wide variety of electrical

equipment.

The use of plastics has just begun.'

will be widely used within the next twenty years in

It is safe to predict that plastics

the manufacture

' In 1939, 6966 workers pocketed ?9, 839, 935 in wages earned in the production of

J77,653,314 worth of synthetic resins. The production of coal-tar resins jumped from

131,568,162 pounds in 1937 to 152,121,989 pounds in 1939.

674

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