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Polyvinyl chloride (or PVC) was invented in 1872 by a German chemist, Eugen Baumann. Baumann never patented his discovery and therefore PVC was never patented until 1913 when another German, Friedrich Klatte, devised a new method for the polymerization of vinyl using sunlight. Vinyl was largely considered useless however, until 1926 when a researcher at BF Goodrich, Waldo Semon accidentally invented plasticized polyvinyl chloride. Semon was trying to create an adhesive to bond rubber to steel when he stumbled upon this new and improved version of PVC instead. Vinyl was first used in shock absorber seals and grew in popularity during World War II when rubber was scarce. It worked so well as a wire covering on Navy ships that researchers started developing more commercial applications for vinyl. Today, about 60 percent of vinyl produced is used by the construction industry, but itโ€™s also used for packaging, transportation and textiles.


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