Synthetic Material Facts

  • Synthetic materials are materials created by humans, such as plastics.
  • Many synthetic materials are polymers. These are substances with chains of organic molecules made up from identical smaller molecules, monomers.
  • Some polymers are natural, such as the plant fiber cellulose.
  • The first synthetic polymer was Parkesine, invented by Alexander Parkes in 1862. The first successful synthetic polymer was celluloid, invented by John Hyatt in 1869 and soon used for photographic film.
  • Nylon was the first completely synthetic fiber. It is a polymer created by Wallace Carothers of Du Pont in the 1930s. This phone was made from Bakelite, one of the earliest types of plastic. 76 Chemicals and materials
  • Snowboards are made from composites such as Kevlar, which combine lightness with strength.
  • New ‘smart’ materials might change their properties in response to conditions.
  • PVC is polyvinyl chloride, a synthetic polymer developed in the 1920s. Composites are new, strong, light materials created by combining a polymer with another material. Carbon-reinforced plastic consists of tough carbon fibers set within a polymer. Kevlar is a composite developed by Du Pont in 1971. It is made from nylon-like fibers set within a polymer.