Injection molding is the most common method for mass manufacturing plastic products. Examples include chairs, toys, cases for consumer electronics, disposable cutlery, and, my favorite, Lego bricks. Injection molding was invented to solve a problem for billiards. In the nineteenth-century billiard balls were composed of ivory harvested from the tusks of African elephants. As we uncover more on Injection molding history.You will get to know how we reached today’s advanced methods in the Plastic injection molding industry.

Ivory from one adult elephant can yield only 8-10 billiard balls.

One set of 16 balls = 1.5 – 2 elephants (12,000-16,000 lbs.)

This devastated the elephant population, so a billiard manufacturer offered a ten-thousand-dollar prize for a replacement for ivory. And this spurred John Wesley Hyatt to develop one of the first plastics — celluloid — to create billiard balls

John Wesley Hyatt

John Wesley Hyatt who lived between 1837 and 1920 American inventor considered one of the inventors of the first material plastic called celluloid John Wesley Wright is born in Starke New York U.S. November 28, 1837, dies in new jersey USA May 10, 1920, was an American inventor rose to fame international for being the inventor together with his brother Isaiah the first plastic material, that he called celluloid a company of villares from new york organized a contest to design alternative materials to ivory a very scarce at the time and with which they made the balls of the popular game table when height brothers they worked in his laboratory 

The first foundation stone for Modern Plastic Injection Molding:

Continuing his experiments, Hyatt found that attractive and practical plastic material could be made by mixing nitrocellulose (a flammable nitrate of common wood or cotton cellulose), camphor (a waxy resin obtained from Asian camphor trees), and alcohol and then pressing the mixture in a heated mold and this laid the foundation for modern plastic injection molding.

The first plastic material in the injection molding:

Hyatt and his brother Isaiah first attempted to market the plastic, which they patented in 1870 and dubbed Celluloid in 1872, as a substitute for hard rubber in denture plates.

It is not something that he realized initially that the combination of these 3 materials opens the gates for the wonderful road of plastic injection molding, there is a little story behind this.

while working in the laboratory Hyatt suffered an accidental cut and to protect the wound he used ointment made from cellulose nitrate, camphor, and alcohol when applying mix a part spilled on the ground and upon drying it formed a thin layer that had the property of joining the sawdust.

On their continued research in this line and they discovered that if you subjected the product to high pressure formed a material suitable for making billiard balls. but the celluloid was not the only invention attributable to his greatness, he also responsible for other discoveries like the so-called hide filter of 1881 an instrument to obtain purification water chemistry plus the machine the sewing machine capable of over 50 stitches at the same time in 1900.

Note: The credit for inventing first plastic in the world goes to Alexander Parkes



In the 1860s,  John Wesley Hyatt acquired Parkes’s patent and began experimenting with cellulose nitrate with the intention of manufacturing billiard balls, which until that time were made from ivory.

In 1872 Hyatt and his brother patented the first injection molding machine, it worked like a hypodermic needle, and this year marked the golden era in the Injection molding history.

Timelines and History of Injection Molding:

  •  In 1909, Leo Hendrik of Belgium discovered phenol-formaldehyde plastic and was the first to control it and make it usable on a large scale.
  • 1930-1939: During the 1930s, major vinyl thermoplastics still used today like polystyrene, PVC, and the polyolefins were in the initial development stage. In 1938, polystyrene (a plastic still used widely today) was officially invented. The following year, WWII created a huge demand for cheap, mass-produced materials. Polystyrene plastic


  • 1941-1946: Developed by Du Pont as a fiber in the 1930s, nylon was first used as a molding material in 1941. In 1946, an American inventor named James Watson Hendry built the first extrusion screw injection machine. The rotating screw made the injection speed easier to control and it helped produce higher quality results.




  •  1946-1955: During these particular years, polyethylene, polystyrene, and other materials that had been more expensive in the past were starting to be produced more cheaply. They also started to replace not only other plastics, but also more traditional materials like wood, metal, leather, and glass. Made from polyethylene plastic
  • 1956-1965: In 1956, W.H. Willert developed the reciprocating injection molding machine. In this machine, the screw moves backward and forwards during the molding cycle.
  • After mixing, the screw stops turning and the whole screw pushes forward, plunging the material into a mold.  This period also brought forth many useful new thermoplastics like high-density polyethylene and polypropylene

Injection molding history

  •  1960-1980: In the 1960s, polysulphones, aromatic polyesters, and polyamides were introduced.  In the 1970s, James Watson Hendry went on to build the first gas-assisted injection molding process.
  • This made producing complex, hollow products that cooled quickly possible. His new design improved the strength and finish of manufactured parts and reduced production time, cost, weight, and waste.
  • Today Now there are plastic injection molding companies whose sole purpose is to make virtually anything (car parts, tools, toys, decor) by using electric injection molding machines.

 As we can see today anything can be made out of plastic these days, and businesses are taking advantage of this as all it takes is building a  prototype of the product and manufacture it at large scale.

Hope you found our article on Plastic molding injection history informative, If you have any queries or suggestion please feel free to comment or write to us through our Contact Page

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