According to Bookrag blogs and Yagmin, the first acrylic acid, which would later be a big part of polyacrylics, was invented by Friedrich Bielstein in 1862. William Chalmers, a chemistry student at McGill University was the inventor of polymethyl methacrylate, the base material for Plexiglas and other acrylic materials (McGill news, 2001). There is some debate as to whether it was invented in 1930 or 1931 (McGill news, 2001; The greatest Canadian inventions, 2007). However, according to both McGill news (2001) and the greatest Canadian inventions (2007), he discovered it in the labs of McGill while working on his PhD in chemistry. It was the first workable acrylic that was not opaque (The greatest Canadian inventions, 2007). His professors had no interest in his discovery until he sold his patent for it to Imperial Chemical industries (ICI) for $5000, a considerable amount at the time (McGill news, 2001). Then, ICI proceeded to give licenses to DuPont and Rohm and Haas Company to produce it commercially in the forms they desired (McGill news, 2001).
In 1907, two German entrepreneurs started up a company called Rohm and Haas (their names) and in 1909 came to the U.S (Rohm and Haas Company). They were one of the polymethyl methacrylate license receivers. Rohm and Haas acted quickly, says Bookrag blogs and Yagmin as they introduced their product Plexiglas to the market the same year they acquired a license. DuPont introduced their first polyacrylic product next year in 1937, called Lucite, much less popular (Bookrag blogs and Yagmin). During World War 2, the market for Plexiglas flourished (Rohm and Haas Company). This was because it was heavily used as a replacement for glass windows and bomber noses in the military (Rohm and Haas Company). According to Rohm and Haas Company, the sales increased by over nine times. As of 1946, it became used for cars, dentures, and more such as room dividers skylights and safety glazing (Rohm and Haas Company). Bookrag Blogs and Yagmin state that in 1956, DuPont introduced the first acrylic lacquers, used for their paints.
BENEFITS AND DOWNSIDES TO PLEXIGLASS
The main reason that Plexiglas is still such a popular product in today’s market is because of its numerous benefits. Its ability to withstand such impressive amounts of constant weight outweighs glass capability seventeen to one (What is the difference between glass and Plexiglas aquariums, 2007). While being lighter as well, it makes a perfect replacement for glass in many sectors of everyday life as it weighs fifty percent of any identical piece of glass (What is the difference between glass and Plexiglas aquariums, 2007; Spartech polycast, 2005). According Hartman (2001), Plexiglas is more affordable than glass in every hardware store, making it the perfect replacement for some offices. It could be used on desks or separators for example. While being very useful, it has another advantage over glass. Plexiglas lets through 92%b of all white light, which is more than any other material (Rabbin & Rideout plastics, 2006). This benefactor could lead to future windows possibly being replaced with Plexiglas, seeing as Rabbin & Rideout plastics (2006) also mention Plexiglas to be more weather resistant than glass for example. Which is why they were introduced as a replacement for glass in aircraft windows and car tail lights, these are simply two of its countless uses (Hartman 2001). The reason that it is used for so many things is because of its safety benefits, when Plexiglas happens to shatter; it seldom has the same effect as glass does, projecting lethal pieces of glass across a room (Rabbin & Rideout plastics, 2006). According Rabbin & Rideout plastics, (2006), Plexiglas is even better for the environment as well! It can easily be melted and formed into new molds using liquid acetone. No wonder Plexiglas happens to be used for so many diverse purposes in our society. It is used in things such as computer screens, vending machine windows, public transportation windows, car sun roofs, cd coating, aircraft windows, and many other things, which are all frequent inventions used in our society (Spartech polycast, 2005).
Evidently, Plexiglas is not perfect, it does have flaws. Plexiglas was not designed to substitute glass, but to accomplish certain tasks more efficiently, like serve as boarders on a hockey arena, seeing as glass cannot flex or withstand the weight and shock being applied when two hockey players collide. Rabbin & Rideout plastics (2006), stated in one of there more recent articles, that there are cases when Plexiglas fogs up, and becomes slightly white when kept in an environment with very little ventilation. The Book rag blogs & Yagmin (n.d) report that the Plexiglas “hazes” over time, and they also mention, that it is not resistant to coarse materials, which is also mentioned by Acrylic Glass, (2007). In our experiment, we were actually able to slightly scratch the Plexiglas after rubbing it with Kleenex. The small wood fibers in Kleenex are the cause for the scratches, which is also why optometrists state that using Kleenex to clean glasses is possibly the worst thing you could use. The most surprising thing we learnt when testing and researching is that Plexiglas is extremely combustible and should almost be treated like wood. Our hair-dryer left a heat dimple in it, and any flame would ignite it. The reason behind all of this is that Plexiglas does contain petrol (Rabbin & Rideout plastics, 2006).
PRODUCTION AND CONCLUSION
The way most recent acrylic sheets are produced is by applying a very hard coating to an acrylic substrate, this coating is a polysilicate coating, scientifically recognized as polysiloxane which has been highly cross linked (Spartech polycast, 2005). According to Hartman (2001), Polyacrylics, which is the main component in Plexiglas, are synthetic fibers that are primarily made form petroleum. To manufacture just one kilogram of polymethyl methacrylate, which is the foundation for Polyacrylics, two kilograms of petroleum are needed because of the strict refining process (Acrylic Glass, 2007). The necessary materials to make are polymethyl-2-methylpropanoate (Molecule Database, 2007), which is Plexiglas, are polymer and methyl methacrylate, which are both thermoplastics. (Molecule database, 2007). Hartman (2001) states that Polyacrylics can be used to make Lucite paint for instance, they can also be in the form of Polyacrylic fibers and can be used to reinforce luggage for optimal durability and strength (Book rag blogs & Yagmin). Evidently, they can also be found in the form of plastics which are then used to create Plexiglas.