May 15, 2008
Hermann Schnell has been posthumously inducted into the Plastics Academy Hall of Fame (Leominster, MA) for his 1953 discovery of polycarbonate (PC) while working as a young scientist at plastics supplier Bayer’s Kreefeld-Uerdingen, Germany site. Bayer, now Bayer MaterialScience, markets the engineering resin under the Makrolon brand.
Practically on his first attempt, Schnell succeeded in synthesizing PC. Soon after moving from Bayer’s headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany to Uerdingen, he discovered a chemical reaction that could be used to produce the material. However, his colleagues at first were less than impressed and not convinced that Schnell’s discovery would lead to any viable commercial product, he reported years later. “The prejudice that carbonates are temperature-sensitive and break down easily caused me many problems when developing polycarbonates,” Schnell said. “It is not enough to invent something. You have to fight to get your invention accepted in the face of all subsequent obstacles.” Bayer patented Makrolon PC the year it was invented. Schnell died nine years ago.
The Plastics Academy Hall of Fame, since it was founded in 1972, has honored more than 130 who have made major contributions to the growth and success of the sector. At its founding, the Hall of Fame was a cooperative creation between the then-editor-in-chief of MPW, Sid Gross, and the U.S. Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI; Washington, DC).—[email protected]
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