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Who Invented Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is actually the most recognizable form of foam polystyrene packaging


Styrofoam Peanuts Used For Packing Dishes

Styrofoam Peanuts Used For Packing Dishes

Christine Balderas/Getty Images
What we commonly call styrofoam, is actually the most recognizable form of foam polystyrene packaging. Styrofoam is the trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, the technical name of the product is foamed polystyrene.

Ray McIntire - Styrofoam Inventor

Dow Chemical Company scientist, Ray McIntire invented foamed polystyrene aka Styrofoam. Ray McIntire said his invention of foamed polystyrene was accidental. His invention came as he was trying to find a flexible electrical insulator around the time of World War II.

Polystyrene, which already had been invented, was a good insulator but too brittle. McIntire tried to make a new rubber-like polymer by combining styrene with isobutylene, a volatile liquid, under pressure. The result was a foam polystyrene with bubble, 30 times lighter than regular polystyrene.

The Dow Chemical Company introduced Styrofoam products to the United State in 1954.

How Are Foamed Polystyrene or Styrofoam Products Made

  • Foamed polystyrene starts as small spherical beads that contain an expanding agent called hydrocarbon.
  • The polystyrene beads are heated with steam, as the expanding agent boils, the beads soften and expand up to forty times their original size.
  • The expanded beads are left to cool down before being heated again. However, this team the beads are expanded within a mold.
  • The molds are designed in a variety of ahapes depending on the desired end product for example: styrofoam cuos, cartons, wig stands, and more.
  • The beads completely fill the mold and also fuse together.
  • Styrofoam is about 98% percent air

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