History of PVC


PVC is one of the most important polymers and is among the most widely used plastic materials in the world. Discovered around 1800, it is considered one of the oldest synthetic materials in the history of industry.

The first father of PVC was a French chemist, Henri Victor Regnault, who unconsciously stumbled upon the material in 1835 while processing heated ethylene chloride (also known as Dutch oil).
In an attempt to decompose that oil by heating it with an alcoholic substance of potassium hydroxide, he obtained the monomer of vinyl chloride, which, in the form of a gas, was accidentally left in the sun. 

A white powder emerged, which was later identified as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. However, the credit for the invention was later, in 1872, taken in Germany by Eugen Baumann.

A few years later, in 1913, the polymerization technique that led to the creation of PVC was patented by German Friedrich Heinrich August Klatte; it resulted, however, in a product that was still very brittle and easy to break.

In 1926 Waldo Semon, during the 1920s crisis in the United States, in an effort to find a cheaper synthetic substitute for natural rubber, succeeds in increasing the plasticity of PVC and making it more elastic. In this way, the material is introduced to the market as a waterproof coating layer for textiles.

From this time on, PVC is widely used in many different branches, from insulating electrical cables in naval ships during World War II to its more modern and innovative uses in the construction industry beginning in the 1950s.

In Germany, production of extruded PVC profiles for window and door manufacturers began in 1967 with the company Kömmerling, followed in 1968 by Gealan and in 1973 by Salamander.

In 1980 coextrusion, a process in which different materials are processed simultaneously and come out of the die coupled, was developed. It allows the production, for example, of gaskets with a rigid core (which acts as a support) and a soft outer part (which provides high airtightness).

PVC is a polymer that has a very long average life and leads to savings in terms of consumption of nonrenewable resources, it is a highly recyclable material, and the sector that contributes most to overall recycling is precisely the window and door industry.

In 1984 the PVC window frame represented, approximately, 5 percent of the Italian window market, in 2000 the 15 percent, and in 2018 the 40 percent. These results have been achieved thanks to the excellent characteristics typical of PVC windows and doors such as excellent value for money, high level of thermal-acoustic insulation, and high resistance to weather and pollutants.