The First Synthetic Plastic

In today’s world, we’re surrounded by a wide variety of types of plastics. After all, the material used to make die cast display cases isn’t exactly suitable for hospital IV bags. However, there weren’t always such a wide range of options available. A little over 100 years ago, there was only one type of synthetic plastic: Bakelite. Despite the labor-intensive manufacturing, Bakelite became a very popular material in the world of production. As a hard moldable plastic, Bakelite was used for a wide range of products including kitchenware and toys.

Bakelite is still manufactured today, although in much more limited quantities and for more specialized applications than in its heyday. It is expensive to produce and is more brittle than newer materials. Other types of plastics are better suited for the clear plastic containers and other products we use every day, but Bakelite still has its appeal, especially for collectors.