Polystyrene is a strong created from erethylene and benzine that can be injected, extruded, or blow molded; making it a very useful and versatile manufacturing material. However, do not forget to recycle polystyrene products.

Most of us recognize polystyrene in the form of used for beverage cups and packaging peanuts. However, polystyrene is also used as a building material, with electrical appliances (light switches and plates), and in other household items.

Eduard Simon & Hermann Staudinger Polymer Research
Polystyrene has a long history of evolution behind it. In 1839, a German apothecary called Eduard Simon discovered polystyrene. Eduard Simon isolated the substance from natural resin, however, he did not know what he had discovered.

It took another German, organic chemist, Hermann Staudinger, to realize that Simon’s discovery, comprised of long chains of styrene molecules, was a plastic polymer.

In 1922, Hermann Staudinger published his theories on polymers, stating that natural rubbers were made up of long repetitive chains of monomers that gave rubber its elasticity. He went on to write that the materials manufactured by the thermal processing of styrene were similar to rubber. They were the high polymers including polystyrene. In 1953, Hermann Staudinger won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his research.

Commercial Use of Polystyrene
Badische Anilin & Soda-Fabrik or BASF was founded in 1861. BASF has a long history being innovative, having invented synthetic coal tar dyes, ammonia, nitrogenous fertilizers, and developed polystyrene, PVC, magnetic tape, and synthetic rubber.

In 1930, the scientists at BASF developed a way to commercially manufacture polystyrene. A company called I.G. Farben is often listed as the developer of polystyrene because BASF was under trust to I G. Farben in 1930.

In 1937, the Dow Chemical company introduced polystyrene products to the U.S. market.

What we commonly call styrofoam, is actually the most recognizable form of foam polystyrene packaging. Styrofoam is the trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, the technical name of the product is foamed polystyrene.

Ray McIntire – Styrofoam Inventor
Dow Chemical Company scientist, Ray McIntire invented foamed polystyrene aka Styrofoam. Ray McIntire said his invention of foamed polystyrene was accidental. His invention came as he was trying to find a flexible electrical insulator around the time of World War II.

Polystyrene, which already had been invented, was a good insulator but too brittle. McIntire tried to make a new rubber-like polymer by combining styrene with isobutylene, a volatile liquid, under pressure. The result was a foam polystyrene with bubble, 30 times lighter than regular polystyrene.

The Dow Chemical Company introduced Styrofoam products to the United State in 1954.

How Are Foamed Polystyrene or Styrofoam Products Made

  • Foamed polystyrene starts as small spherical beads that contain an expanding agent called hydrocarbon.
  • The polystyrene beads are heated with steam, as the expanding agent boils, the beads soften and expand up to forty times their original size.
  • The expanded beads are left to cool down before being heated again. However, this team the beads are expanded within a mold.
  • The molds are designed in a variety of ahapes depending on the desired end product for example: styrofoam cuos, cartons, wig stands, and more.
  • The beads completely fill the mold and also fuse together.
  • Styrofoam is about 98% percent air

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