History of Vinyl

January 15, 2020

Polyvinyl chloride or PVC was first created by the German chemist Eugen Baumann in 1872. Eugen Baumann never applied for a patent.


Polyvinyl chloride or PVC was never patented until 1913 when German, Friedrich Klatte invented a new method of the polymerization of vinyl chloride using sunlight.


Friedrich Klatte became the first inventor to receive a patent for PVC. However, no really useful purpose for PVC was found until Waldo Semon came along and made PVC a better product. Semon had been quoted as saying, “People thought of PVC as worthless back then [circa 1926]. They’d throw it in the trash.”

Waldo Semon – Useful Vinyl

In 1926, Waldo Lonsbury Semon was working for the B.F. Goodrich Company in the United States as a researcher, when he invented plasticized polyvinyl chloride.

Waldo Semon had been trying to dehydrohalogenation polyvinyl chloride in a high boiling solvent in order to obtain an unsaturated polymer that could bond rubber to metal.

For his invention, Waldo Semon received United States patents #1,929,453 and #2,188,396 for the “Synthetic Rubber-like Composition and Method of Making Same; Method of Preparing Polyvinyl Halide Products.”

All About Vinyl

Vinyl is the second most produced plastic in the world. The first products from vinyl that Walter Semon produced were golf balls and shoe heels. Today, hundreds of products are made from vinyl, including ​shower curtains, raincoats, wires, appliances, floor tiles, paints and surface coatings.

According to the Vinyl Institute, “like all plastic materials, vinyl is made from a series of processing steps that converts raw materials (petroleum, natural gas or coal) into unique synthetic products called polymers.”

The Vinyl Institute states that vinyl polymer is unusual because it is based only in part on hydrocarbon materials (ethylene obtained by processing natural gas or petroleum), the other half of the vinyl polymer is based on the natural element chlorine (salt). The resulting compound, ethylene dichloride, is converted at very high temperatures to vinyl chloride monomer gas. Through the chemical reaction known as polymerization, vinyl chloride monomer becomes polyvinyl chloride resin that can be used to produce an endless variety of products.

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