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Leo Hendrik Baekeland - Bakelite
By Mary Bellis

BakelizerLeo Hendrik Baekeland was born in Ghent, Belgium, in 1863. He immigrated to the United States in 1889. His first major invention was Velox, a photographic printing paper that could be developed under artificial light. Baekeland sold the rights Velox to George Eastman and Kodak for for one million dollars in 1899. He then started his own laboratory in Yonkers, New York, where he invented Bakelite in 1907, a synthetic substitute for the shellac used in electronic insulation.

Bakelite was made by mixing Carbolic Acid with Formaldehyde, it is considered the first plastic. In 1909, Bakelite was introduced to the general public at a chemical conference. Baekeland founded the General Bakelite Corp. In 1944, Baekeland died at the age of eighty years in Beacon, N.Y.

Bakerlite was used to manufacture everything form telephone handsets or costume jewelry for example as well as engine parts and insulation for electronics.

Leo Hendrik Baekeland
Leo Hendrik Baekeland patented a "Method of Making Insoluble Products of Phenol and  Formaldehyde" - Bakelite.

Plastic: Leo Baekeland
Setting out to make an insulator, he invented the first true plastic ( Bakelite ) and transformed the world.

Leo Baekeland
Plastic inventor - Invention Dimension.

Leo Hendrik Baekeland
One of the earliest synthetics was Bakelite, a polymeric plastic made from phenol and formaldehyde. Leo Hendrik Baekeland invented Bakelite in 1907, and his inventive and entrepreneurial genius also propelled him into several other new chemical technological ventures at the turn of the twentieth century.

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Bakelizer illustration by mary bellis


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