I'm always cautious about companies that claim to be the first to do something -- most of the claims are just about impossible to verify. But here's an interesting "first" plastics application, courtesy of BASF Corp.'s Web site: stirrup inserts made from an ABS/nylon blend by an injection molder in Belgium.
This marks the first time that this plastic has gone into such an application, where primarily leather or metal had been used up to now. The lightweight, easy-to-install parts prevent the rider's foot from slipping through the stirrup when the horse is galloping. It really helps children to learn not to put their feet too far into the stirrups. Plastics in these safety-relevant parts for horse-riding have an edge over conventional materials: they are easier to maintain, more dimensionally stable and cheaper.Polymar bvba is the company credited with marketing the product, and A. Schulman helped develop the stirrup, according to the release. I doubt that stirrups are a high-volume market, but it's a neat niche that I never would have imagined. I guess this is proof that there are still applications out there for plastics to replace metal and other traditional materials.