Acrylic Emulsion Technology
Acrylic Emulsion Technology transformed home painting from a smelly, messy ordeal into a cleaner and more user-friendly process.
August 14, 1945 was a joyous day. World War II was finally over. In Times Square, an exuberant sailor kissing a nurse became the iconic image of the era. Soon, “the boys” would be coming home, gladly discarding howitzers for houses, submarines for suburbia and parachutes for paint brushes.
America was about to change, and Rohm and Haas, a small Pennsylvania-based specialty chemical company, needed to change with it. Plexiglas™, Rohm and Haas’s lightweight, shatterproof acrylic glass substitute used in airplanes and other military vehicles, was the backbone of the company’s war effort.
In the postwar years, manufacturers would use Plexiglas to make illuminated signs, car taillights, skylights and other goods. However, company leaders knew that Plexiglas sales would never again reach World War II levels. In order to grow and thrive as America turned from war to peace, the company needed to find other uses for acrylics.
The ultimate solution — aqueous acrylic emulsion — took years to develop and perfect. But in the coming decades it would revolutionize our lives.
Acrylic emulsion chemistry would also transform Rohm and Haas from a modest enterprise into a dominant force on the cutting edge of acrylic technology. Getting to that point took audacity, tenacity and a knack for innovative chemistry: three traits that company founders Otto Rohm and Otto Haas had in abundance and instilled in their workforce.
Visit National Historic Chemical Landmarks to read more about acrylic emulsion technology.
Excerpted with permission, National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program