Did you know that Waldo Semon was born today in 1898? He was a chemist and engineer best known for his role in inventing vinyl. Waldo Semon was looking for a substance that would bond rubber and metal together when one of his experiments created a flexible and inert material. Polyvinyl Chloride (or PVC) is the second most used plastic in the world. It has both flexible and rigid forms and is used to make pipes, bottles, credit or membership cards, phonograph records, imitation leather, pool inflatables, raincoats, shower curtains, and more! Waldo Semon created more than 5,000 synthetic rubber compounds and was inducted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995.
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Vinyl chloride as first created by August Wilhelm von Hofmann in 1872. The polymerization of vinyl chloride was achieved by Friedrich Heinrich August Klatte in 1912. These initially forms of PVC did not have much commercial use, because they were very rigid.
Waldo Semon’s plasticized PVC was known as Koroseal.
Waldo Semon also created Ameripol, a synthetic rubber, which was the prototype for petroleum-based materials that replaced natural rubber in tire manufacturing. During World War II, Waldo Semon developed synthetic rubber that could be used to manufacture consumer goods, so natural rubber could be reserved to make supplies like tires and gas masks needed for the war effort.