When talking to his superior at B. F. Goodrich Co. in Akron in 1926, Dr. Waldo L. Semon told him that creating Koroseal, a PVC thermoplastic, was “sort of an accident.”
Semon had been tasked with creating an adhesive from undesirable polyvinyl chloride to bond metal and rubber. Instead, Semon created a flexible, fire-resistant, waterproof plastic, today known as PVC.
Without realizing he’d fathered the vinyl plastics industry, the research chemist devoted the following decades to reducing America’s reliance on crude Eastern rubbers by turning to synthetics.
By 1942, he’d created more than 8,000 rubber-like substances and even sought to convince the public on prospects for a tubeless tire in 1948.
But by 1962, B. F. Goodrich was the largest producer of Semon’s plasticized polyvinyl chloride. Today, 44 billion pounds are produced every year, making it the second most-used plastic in the world.
Why It Matters: You can build a kingdom with Semon’s plasticized polyvinyl chloride. It’s in shower curtains, raincoats, pipes, window frames, garden hoses, doors, siding, records, credit cards, dashboards, medical tubing, IVs, blood bags and more.