Our Plastic Future

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Our Plastic Future

If you had prudently invested in the new and burgeoning field of plastics right after World War Two, you would have been rich within a decade or two. No man-made material has enjoyed such popularity and widespread use as plastic. Today, that’s truer than ever and new investment opportunities will abound in the plastics revolution just ahead of us.

Plastics were initially made out of natural substances, such as cellulose from plant matter.

Celluloid was enormously popular in the 1800s for everything from shirt collars to combs to false teeth. It was a practical replacement for ivory, bone, tortoise shell, and many other natural substances that were expensive or rare. The problem was that celluloid is extremely flammable, so it had to be replaced with safer materials. Ping-pong balls are one of the very few contemporary products that are still made of celluloid.

The first synthetic plastic was made by a process invented by Leo Hendrik Baekeland in 1909. The product, made of phenol and formaldehyde, was known as Bakelite and was found in countless objects, from tele

phones and radios to the gearshift knobs on cars.

The rapidly expanding plastics industry developed polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, polyesters, acrylics, silicones, polyurethanes, and many more products for commercial use. Now we’re in the midst of another revolution in the plastics industry, and it has implications for every area of business and life.

For example, organic plastics in the electronics industry are the next big thing in Silicon Valley,1 which may have to change its name as silicon is replaced by new materials.

But much more will come out of the plastics revolution besides new chips. Among the developments to be displayed at The 3rd Global Plastic Electronics Conference & Showcasein Frankfurt, Germany are:

  • Flexible displays
  • Lighting and signage
  • Photovoltaic panels
  • Organic-based sensors
  • Organic labels and tags
  • Smart textiles
  • Fuel cells and batteries
  • Hybrid components

These developments are expected to revolutionize mobile devices and advance the delivery of multi-media content to them with no increase in size.

A company called Plastic Logic in England recently received $100 million in venture capital to build a factory to make plastic displays with electronic properties that will enable “go anywhere” readers, available in 2008.2

Elderly or infirm people will be able to order meals by touching food menus on their mobile phones...

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