The Society of Plastics Engineers is 75 years old. That's a landmark: SPE has adapted to meet the changing needs of professionals.
How has SPE changed? I wrote a package of stories for SPE's 50th anniversary, in 1992, the pre-Google era. It was heavy on the history, and the fact that plastics were relatively new meant that I could talk directly to the people who were there at the beginning. That excited me.
I interviewed Charles W. Kleiderer, who was a plastic development and production engineer on the team that developed the proximity fuze, which fit on the end of a rocket, missile or bomb. A major progression of technology, the fuze detonated when the weapon closed in on its target.
I talked to John Slater, who in the early 1930s sold Tenite resin, a novel material, for Tennessee Eastman Co. Tenite was a something brand new, a thermoplastic — cellulose acetate — in an age of thermosets.
George S. Hendrie Sr. began his pioneering extrusion career dipping toilet seats and car parts into a nitrocellulose solution in the early 1930s. He and a partner, Jack Gould, bought a company that specialized in the process, called Detroit Macoid Corp.
These industry giants are no longer alive. And the next generation of plastics leaders was still in diapers … plastic disposable ones, of course.