There is no doubt that Belgian born Leo Baekelands discovery and development
of his phenolic resins in 1907 marked a significant stage in 20th Century science
and technology. His scientific mind, business acumen and flair, but above all his vision,
when describing his product as “the material of a thousand uses” was to provide the world
with a product unseen before Bakelite was the trade-mark coined by Leo Baekelands.
This trade–mark became as successful and generic as that of Hoover and Sellotape.
Bakelite was the first totally synthetic thermosetting plastic.
The name plastic coming from the Greek word ‘plasseur – to mould’.
It was originally viewed as ‘downmarket ornamental imitation’,
but soon lived up to its name as “the material of a thousand uses” in its ability
to be formed by moulding into thousands of shapes in household, industrial and
decorative forms etc, compared to wood or metals which had to be sawn, cut or welded
by a labour intensive process to form shapes which the moulding of bakelite could
produce more cheaply, and aesthetically more pleasing to the eye in colour and form.