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While it may seem that plastic parts and components are a relatively new invention, there is actually a longer history to plastics than many might think. Understanding the progression of the technology can provide an insight into the possibilities of the future as this method of production continues to evolve.

Early Plastic

The first development of what would classify as a polymer was in 1847. Jons Berzelius combined propanetriol and tartaric acid to develop a substance that would be recognized as the first condensation polymer. Shortly after in 1861 the first plastic was invented by Alexander Parks. He demonstrated the use of this plastic, called parkensine, at the 1862 London International Exhibition. This material could be heated and molded, but it was also highly flammable and very brittle.

Injection Molding

It was not until 1872 that John Wesley Hyatt used the invention of Celluloid, a type of plastic, in an early prototype of what is now used in medical injection molding. Originally used to create buttons and small items, it was not until 1909 that large scale items could be made using plastic injection methods.

In the 1930s thermoplastics came onto the market, allowing for the use of molds on a larger-volume basis. In 1946 machines were available to provide the precursor to modern medical injection molding technology.

The 1970s saw the development of the modern types of injection molding systems. These systems were designed to use pressure to force the liquid plastic into the mold, allowing for more detailed and elaborate shapes. By the early part of the 1980s, the number of plastic parts produced across all industries, including the medical industry, were greater than components made of metals.

Today, at MDI, there are many different options in molding for the medical device industry. Talk to our staff to find out more about your specific medical device requirements.