Polythene, polyvinylchloride (PVC) and PET bottles, 1950-1980.

 
Polythene, polyvinylchloride (PVC) and PET bottles, 1950-1980.
4 0 c m
 
33cm
actual image size: 25cm x 32cm

Description

Polythene (also known as polyethene or polyethylene) was discovered in 1933 by Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett at ICI's research laboratory at Winnington, Durham, as the result of a laboratory accident. The first patents for polythene were registered in 1936, and a year later the first practical use for the material, as a film, was discovered. Since World War II it has been used for manufacturing a wide range of products. PVC is a polymer of vinyl chloride (chloroethane). It forms a rigid white solid mouldable plastic, but can be made in a flexible form if a plasticiser is added to it. PVC is tough, nonflammable, resistant to moisture, and a good electrical insulator. Uses include pipes, electrical insulators, and clothing, as well as bottles.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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