Alexander Parkes

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Alexander Parkes

Alexander Parkes


Plastics are considered as one of the most used materials in industries life as well as in commercial life. Plastic products are widely incorporated in today's life style and have brought a major and irreplaceable change in all areas of life. In United States, the plastic industry is in its second century, the most significant developments have taken place since 1910(Painter, Coleman, 2008). This development was not the new one but the plastic materials were used by people through the centuries. Initially the man-made plastic was produced by Alexander Parkes. He presented it in a great international exhibition which was held in London, in the 1862. The name of his invention was Parkesine. The product of Alexander Parkes revolutionized the plastic industry and it had various impacts on the business, environments as well as on the economy (Painter & Coleman, 2008).


Plastic is an artificial material that is prepared by polymerizing molecules of monomers that are the derivatives of natural gas, petroleum or coal. Plastic is flexible, versatile, lightweight, durable and affordable material which is easily available (Chaiear, 2001). Large number of products can be manufactured by plastics including cooking utensils; packaging for beverages and food, containers, dishes, computers, furniture, toys, mobile phones etc. plastic was first manufactured by Alexander Parkes in the year 1862 (Rosato,, 2000).

History of plastic

The history of the plastic can be understood by considering the natural materials which were used as adhesives, fillers and coatings. All these material were the originator of modern plastic. Hard rubber or ebonite was discovered in the year 1851(Painter, Coleman, 2008). It was the first material which was prepared by doing the chemical changes in a natural material. Ebonite was not commercially exploited for many years after its invention that is why it has blurred historical background (Rosato,, 2000).

On the other hand further changes in the processes of rubber technology were bringing up by the companies, and advanced discoveries were taking place in Europe (Chaiear, 2001). A famous English inventor, named Alexander Parkes, observed the process of making plastic in 1850s. He observed that, when the solvent of photographic collodion is evaporated, a hard residue is left after it. It was a waterproof, highly elastic and hard substance. After observing it, he disapproved the whole process of waterproofing natural fabrics by using these materials (Chaiear, 2001).

In 1862, Alexander Parkes introduced a new substance named Parkesine. Parkesine was a material which was manufactured by mixing cellulose nitrate in a small quantity of solvent. The mixture was then heated in order to evaporate some quantity of solvent from it. After heating, the material is still in the form of plastic which was then transformed to certain shapes by pressure or dies (Painter, Coleman, 2008). In the year 1866, Alexander Parkes organized the company named Parkesine, in order to manufacture further products from his invention. The Parkesine Company got failed in the year 1868 because Parkes tried to reduce the costs of production which resulted in the manufacturing of inferior ...