Friday, July 27, 2007

Patent Dust: Bakelite - Belgian Genius!

Disruptive Patent: US 942,699 Method of making insoluble products of phenol and formaldehyde Leo H. Baekeland On July 13, 1907 Belgian genius chemist Leo H. Baekeland filed a patent application for a method of making insoluble condensation products of phenols and formaldehyde by the reaction a phenolic body with formaldehyde, and with combine action of heat and pressure against which US Patent No. 942,699 (the ‘699 patent) was issued on December 07, 1909. This ‘699 patent uncovered the first synthetic plastic known as Bakelite which completely revolutionized the manufacturing of everything from buttons to car parts. Baekeland used money from the sale of his first invention – Velox, a photographic printing paper, to Eastman Kodak to start his own laboratory where he developed phenolic resin or Bakelite, a non-flammable plastic that was less expensive and more versatile than other plastics of the day. Later, Baekeland founded the General Bakelite Corp. now merged with Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation. Bakelite was used to make electrical and automobile insulators, and was also used in such diverse products as kitchenware, jewelery, pipe stems, and children’s toys. In 1993 Bakelite was designated as ACS National Historical Chemical Landmark in recognition of its significance as the world’s first synthetic plastic.

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