History of Thermoplastic

Many people think that plastic is a modern material, invented just a few dozens of year ago. This is absolutely false.
Plastic in fact has never been invented by man, on the contrary it has been disocvered in ancien times, that are impossible to define.
For centuries, the only way to obtain gum was to carve tree cortex and collect this gum, called caouchu, whihc was very soft and had not too many practical uses.
In 1862 the English chemist Alexander Parkes invented a new material resulting from cellulose nitrate taht could be hot stamped and that, once cold, could keep the shape it had been given. This material was called Parkesite but its inventor had no chances due to the high cost of the raw material.
The first real success of plastic came as a solution to a practical problem: the great success of the game of billiards had lead to such a huge elephants' extermination to obtain ivory, necessary to produce billiard balls, that the game had become prohibitive.
In 1866 the English Hyatt decided to produce billaird balls in the same material invented by Parkes: the only problem was that balls were too rigid and risked to get broken at the first impact. That's why he decided to soften them adding some camphor, inventing the first thermoplastic material, celluloid.

Nowadays many products are made in thermoplastic, like flange protections, caps and plugs.