LEXAN Resin Innovation Timeline

LEXAN Resin Innovation Timeline

Dr. Daniel W. Fox is the inventor of GE’s LEXAN® polycarbonate. In 1953, after conducting a series of experiments while working on a project to develop new wire insulation material, Dr. Fox found himself with a gooey substance that hardened in a beaker. Despite his best efforts, he found he could not break or destroy the material. LEXAN polycarbonate was born and has continued to revolutionize our lives, work and play.

NASA begins using LEXAN resin for both astronaut helmet assemblies and visors.

This NASA pressure helmet assembly used by astronauts aboard their spacecraft and later on the moon is made of LEXAN polycarbonate. Many people simply call it a “Bubble Helmet.”

GE develops LEXAN sheet, a flat panel made from LEXAN® resin. The material can be used in windows, signs, greenhouses and other large applications.

In the early 1970s, GE begins laminating LEXAN sheet up to 1.25” thick to create a material so tough that it can stop bullets.

While journeying to the moon, the astronauts aboard Apollo 11 each wore visors and pressure helmet assemblies made with LEXAN polycarbonate resin.
The United States placed the first man on the moon on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped from Apollo 11. This is when Neil Armstrong uttered the famous proclamation, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Taillights and indicator lenses made from LEXAN resin are used on European sports cars to add lightweight toughness and durability. This begins many uses in the automotive industry. A 1969 Dino Ferrari has taillight lenses made of tough GE LEXAN polycarbonate.

These indicator lenses from a 1969 Fiat are made from LEXAN resin.

A new molding process allows for even larger parts to be made of LEXAN resin. This makes it possible to manufacture finished products on a huge scale. One of the first uses is a removable roof section for a Jeep® CJ, the largest LEXAN resin application of the 1970s. 1977 Jeep CJ’s features a lightweight, one-piece removable top made from LEXAN resin.

The first headlamp system made of LEXAN resin helps lead the way to today’s tough, versatile aerodynamic headlight systems. A 1978 Dodge Mirada features a headlight system made from LEXAN polycarbonate.

To reduce weight, increase safety and add performance, automobile manufacturers begin using LEXAN resin in the production of automotive instrument panels. The use of plastics adds a new degree of design flexibility and leads to today’s modern, flowing dashboards. These 1980 Ford instrument panels are made from versatile GE LEXAN resin.

Computer systems appear in offices around the world. Companies discover they need portable units that can be transported from site-to-site, so computer manufacturers turn to strong, durable and lightweight LEXAN resin.

The portable Compaq computer has an enclosure made from GE LEXAN polycarbonate.

Compact disc technology is about to change the way we listen to music forever. GE develops a family of polycarbonate that is so pure it allows the music world to deliver digital sound at low cost with unbelievably clear quality. Soon after, CDs are being sold at the “record” store and LEXAN resin helps make it happen.

This compact disc is molded of optically clear LEXAN resin. CDs are molded clear, then covered with metal so CD players can read them.

A new use for LEXAN polycarbonate appears in Houston. LEXAN sheet is used to create pathways through the Houston Zoo, allowing visitors the opportunity to view the animals in their element and without bars.

Mobile phones take a huge leap forward when Motorola, using LEXAN resin, develops the first truly lightweight, durable portable phone. By today’s standards, the phone is considered huge, but it helped fuel the cell phone revolution. Here is a 1980s “brick” phone made of LEXAN resin.

1990Long used as a material in industrial safety glasses, polycarbonate begins appearing as lenses on traditional eyewear. Lightweight, optically clear and extremely durable, LEXAN resin helps make everyday eyewear safer and more comfortable. LEXAN polycarbonate not only allows eyewear to be safe and light, but gives designers the chance to create unique designs and shapes.

Using LEXAN resin and new thin wall technology, Motorola once again revolutionizes the cell phone industry by developing the first MicroTAC® Ultra-Lite mobile phone. The new smaller phone can now fit into a handbag or on a belt clip, but is as tough as its larger counterparts. Soon after, the even smaller StarTAC™ is developed and the “wearable phone” is born. Motorola mobile phones made from LEXAN resin started the pocket-phone craze.

Taking thin wall technology a step further, IBM introduces the ThinkPad® 701C “Butterfly” Notebook computer. Using LEXAN polycarbonate, the designers at IBM produce a laptop computer with an expandable full size keyboard, a first for the industry.

The proliferation of the DVD begins. CDs replaced audio cassettes earlier in the decade and now it’s time to begin replacing video cassettes. DVDs, or Digital Versatile Discs, are made from an ultra-pure LEXAN polycarbonate which allows for both digital quality sound and picture. Home theater will never be the same again.

1998GE Plastics introduces a new line of special effect LEXAN resin grades that forever change the look and feel of the products we use every day. Ranging from translucent to glow-in-the-dark, the new line of LEXAN resin materials allows designers to create entirely new looks and products.

Form follows function. GE expands the LEXAN product line with a brand new way to make CDs and DVDs not only perform well, but look great too. The “Edge Glow” technology adds a bright accent to not only discs but bottles too and receives “glowing” reviews from designers everywhere.

GE introduces LEXAN SLX , a new film that has the toughness of LEXAN resin but with added scratch resistance and extreme weatherability. The material is so versatile and appealing, it can replace paint on automobile body panels.

The first use of LEXAN SLX polycarbonate is on the Segway™ Human Transporter, a new people mover designed to quickly transport a person from place to place.