Objects made from polystyrene, 1940-1960.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A collection of polystyrene objects including a toy coffee set of pale blue and clear marbled polystyrene made by Projects of England, 1940. Polystyrene is a thermoplastic made by the polymerisation of styrene. It is an excellent electrical insulator, and is relatively unaffected by exposure to water. It has many applications including toys, light fittings, pens, lenses and light industrial components. Polystyrene can also be extruded in sheets for use in window envelopes and as a packaging material, as well as being foamed to form the lightweight packaging as which the versatile plastic is probably most familiar.