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Entries in plastic (3)

Thursday
May122011

Futuristic Products, After the War (1945)

American companies during World War II often stressed sacrifice in their print advertising. If we can all just be patient, they promised, we'll have more televisions and personal helicopters and push-button kitchens than you can shake a rocket car at. 

 

After the war, the sun will power our homes.

After the war, we'll have plastic skyscrapers and frozen dinners.

After the war, life will be streamlined.

 

The June 24, 1945 San Antonio Express ran an article by Associated Press science writer Frank Carey that looked at the futuristic post-war products Americans were being promised. Dissecting a Labor Department report, Carey describes what it would take, with the end of the war, for these products to see the light of day.

I'm most intrigued by the article's optimistic outlook on plastics, "...and years after the war, we may even see automobile bodies made entirely of plastics." However, the report acknowledges that plastic's high price doesn't make it quite yet competitive with steel. Magnesium, plywood, aluminum.. it's fascinating to look at what people of the 1940s thought the future would be built upon.

Carey's entire article is below, but I'll leave you with one word about the future: plastics.

 

Dresses made of aluminum mesh...

Bathtubs made of plywood...

Transparent refrigerators made of plastics...

Automobiles with magnesium engine and body parts...

Such visionary products of the post-war world are either in the design or experimental stage, or they're being talked about as possibilities.

But the extent to which they might come into use depends upon various factors. Not the least is the dollar sign.

Discussion of the post-war outlook for such war-developed materials as polastics, aluminum, magnesium, plywood and synthetic rubber, is contained in a report made by the Department of Labor's bureau of statistics to the Senate subommittee on war mobilization.

The latter group, a brand of the Senate military affairs committee, described the report as "the first comprehensive statement of wartime developments."

The extent to which these new materials will be generally adopted is difficult to foretell," says the report.

"It is apparent that many of them will find larger markets than in the pre-war era period, but it is also virtually certain that not all of the facilities built during the war for the production of these materials will be needed. Comparisons of costs of various materials, which have not been of the greatest signifcance during the war, will again become important when peace returns."

And the report adds:

"The costs of production for these newer materials will be influenced not only by purely economic factors but by many political considerations.

"Of primary importance will be the policies followed in the disposition of government-owned facilities. For some materials, notably synthetic rubber, much will depend on the policies adopted with respect to foreign trade.

"Many of the new materials will compete with each other as well as the older materials for particular uses -- for example, plastics, aluminum, magnesium, and plywood."

The Labor Department's glance into the future was part of a comprehensive study of some 1400 technological developments made in various fields during wartime.

Of plastic, this picture was given:

Special qualities of plastics, such as transparency and resistance to chemical action, will fit them for varied uses in industry, the laboratory and the home. Continued use of plastics for structural parts and other articles in aircraft and automobiles is expected.

And years after the war, we may even see automobile bodies made entirely of plastics.

On the other hand --

"The future of the plastics industry will be governed largely by economic factors," says the report. "The price per pound of most plastics remains higher than that of many materials with which plastics compete.

"Despite the fact that articles of plastics are usually lighter than those of metal and that economies may be affected in fabrication, the price differential between plastics and, for example, steel is so great as to discourage large-scale substitution.

"There nevertheless remains a multitude of applications in which plastics are highly economical, because of special properties not elsewhere attainable or because of great savings in fabrication time and costs.

The report points out that the production of aluminum and magnesium expanded tremendously during wartime and says both materials may come into greater use in the future.

While the annual production of magnesium before 1939 was 4,000,000 pounds, production in 1943 was 368,000,000 pounds and the nation has production capacity for much more.

Indicated uses for aluminum, the report says, are for buses, automobiles, passenger ships and for the manufacture of household appliances, furniture, bicycles and burial caskets. But most uses, it adds, "are contingent upon a suitable adjustment of the price of aluminum relative to that of stainless steel, plastics, magnesium or other competing materials."

Desings have been prepared for automobiles with much aluminum in engine and body, "but the large-scale application of these designs will probably have to await further development of inexpensive mass-production methods of working with the metal."

The outlook for plywood in the post-war world "is promising" says the report, but it, too, will have to cope with competition."

Among possible uses are private airplanes, lightweight box-cars, prefabricated chicken houses and automobile bodies.

 

Friday
Jan252008

Monsanto House of the Future Brochure (1961)


The excellent Disney blog Stuff from the Park has scans of a 1960s brochure for the Monsanto House of the Future.

The piece explains that, "The erection of the Monsanto 'Plastics Home of the Future' at Disneyland in the summer of 1957 provided a practical demonstration of the almost limitless potential of plastics in structural applications." Much like the article on the future of glass we looked at last week, this piece centers around selling consumers goods which are positioned as "futuristic." Insert reference to The Graduate here.

Some of the "outstanding equipment of advanced design on display in the 'plastics home of the future'' are listed below:

"Atoms for Living Kitchen" featuring micro-wave cooking and ultra-sonic dishwashing.

 

Telephones with preset and push-button dialing, "hands-free" speakers and transmitters, and viewing screen to see the person who is calling.

Modular bathrooms with lavoratory, tub, walls and floor molded in units.

Foamed-in-place rigid urethane plastic foam for insulation and structural strength and flexible urethane foam for cushioning furniture and rugs.

Climate control center which filters, cools, heats and scents the air in each room independently.

Foam-backed plastic floor covering with controlled resiliency and noise-reducing properties.

"Acrillan" acrylic fiber and Chemsbrand nylon for upholstery, draperies and carpeting.


See also:
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957)

 

Friday
Sep212007

Closer Than We Think! Poor Man's Yacht (1958)

The July 20, 1958 Chicago Tribune ran this Closer Than We Think! strip. Not only will every family of the future have their own yacht, it will be powered by the family car!


The luxury of yachting may be within the reach of almost everyone in the world of tomorrow.

Mass production of low-cost plastic hulls will be made possible by the use of guns that spray the plastic, similar to the "Fiber-Resin Depositor" as conceived by the Rand Development Corporation.

The family car will be used for motive power. When the yachtsman of the future drives his auto into the cradle of his new marine creation the engine will be in place. The rear wheels will rest on a roller linked to the propeller. The driver will put the car in gear, step on the accelerator, and presto - he'll be yachting.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)