The history of manmade, synthetic materials like polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC also called vinyl, leatherette or pleather, dates back a long way. PVC is the third-most widely produced plastic after polyethylene and polypropylene.
I have one word for you...it's not "PLASTICS"...but RUBBER. The wide range of materials carried in stock by Sommers Plastics and shown on this site would not have been possible without one man's discovery. That is Charles Goodyear. Goodyear didn't invent rubber, but in 1839, he figured out how to use it in a new way. Natural rubber was discovered by ancient civilizations like the Maya and the Aztec. They collected sap from rubber trees to create all sorts of products including shoes and many of the end products made to this day by customers like you.
But natural rubber has its limitations; it hardens in cold weather and melts in hot. Charles Goodyear discovered a chemical process adding sulfur to natural rubber to create a durable, waterproof and flexible material. The process is vulcanization. Rubber changed the quality of our soles, our shoes and our lives. But the earliest forms of PVC had problems; it was inflexible and brittle. The B.F. Goodrich Company, in 1926, developed a method to plasticize the compound with phthalates to make it softer. In this flexible form it became widely used. It had long-lasting durability and low price- perfect replacement for leather and rubber in many products.
The innovation and changes in rubber and rubber-like materials continues today. Sommers' trademarked term, "Fashion Engineering," defines our goal to create new and unique plastic materials. We have been doing this successfully since young, Herman Schecter found himself in the right place at the right time. Brooklyn, NY, 1947.
Early sheet plastics were just that-small sheets measuring less than a yard long and under 54" wide. Created by pressing molten PVC between steel plates at a specific thickness (gauge). In the USA, the thickness of PVC vinyl is called gauge and is measured in inches. Can you guess what the device to measure gauge is called? It is called a gauge. For example, 012 or 12 gauge = 12/1000" or twelve one thousandth of an inch- approximately half the thickness of a credit card. Everywhere else in the world, metrics being the common measurement, thickness is defined in millimeters; 1 millimeter = .040 gauge-almost three times the thickness of a credit card and measured by a gauge called a micrometer.
Press polished sheets can be made opaque, clear, frosted, or tinted. A secondary lamination process can laminate inserts of printed vinyl, flakes of glitter, confetti or a sandwich of fabric locked inside. With specially embossed metal plates fashionable designs became possible.
Unsupported (no reinforced fabric backing) vinyl film, is sold by at the mill level by the pound. The cost is tied to the commodity price for a barrel of oil. As such, it has been subject to wide fluctuations in price (mostly upwards, like gasoline) and even historical shortages of supply (remember long lines to get gas?). The cost of a finished gauge/thickness of solid, PVC film is determined by the yield- how many yards equal 1 pound (in the USA) or grams per square meter elsewhere. If one pound of clear PVC sells for $1.00/pound and has a gauge of .006 and a width of 54", the yield equals 2.0 or two yards per pound. Thus the cost would be $0.50 per linear yard. Generally speaking, .012 x 54" = 1 pound.
There was a major drawback when early PVC was available only in sheet form. Manufacturers of mass-marketed items like handbags, belts, wallets, shoes, and leathergoods, for example, had to die cut their patterns out of these small sheets. In this process,much scrap around the edges was wasted. The variety of PVC sheets was limited, typically sold with a smooth finish, lacking the grain or embossings of natural leather. If only there was a way to make this novel material in continuous roll form!
Germany, in the early fifties, had the most advanced industrial manufacturing in the world. German cameras and lenses, automobiles or plastics were the best. It was in Germany that the first calendar- a machine to produce plastics in continuous roll form- was invented. A calendering operation begins with raw materials- PVC pellets, plasticizer for softness and flexibility, pigments, stabilizers and perhaps other proprietary ingredients. The ingredients were funneled down through a hopper to be melted and then extruded through two steel rollers set at a specific gap. The top steel roller was engraved with any of an infinite number of embossings. Some would simulate leather grains, textile weaves or custom designs. PVC film continued through the calender winding around water-filled, cooling rollers then taken up as jumbo rolls at the other end ready for post- production printing, inspection, cutting, packaging and finally, shipping.
There are many constructions of PVC offered by Sommers depending on the customers' application and end use; PVC film or expanded can be produced laminated to different textile backings. Or the PVC could be made without any backing-unsupported. PVC can be made into a solid film or expanded like a sponge. Sponge leather also known as expanded vinyl can be made with supported back or unsupported in any of a wide range of colors, metallic finishes or iridescent skins.
Sommers offers a simple method to customize your own color and embossing in the USA with low minimum and speedy delivery time from Clifton, NJ. Simply chose a minimum of two rolls of Marshmallow (can even be one roll of two different colors) and select one of Sommers' embossing rollers (see below). Note: embossings are shown with metallic, Mylar© tops. Metallic transfer and Mylar© lamination are additional options available in low MOQ- minimum order quantity of two rolls.
Sommers Plastics' expertise in supplying fashionable, functional and cost-effective PVC fabrics is unmatched.
embossings- dull, shiny, metallic mylar or metallic transfer colors-gold,
bronze, pewter and silver.
Copyright 2011 Sommers Plastic Products. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Sommers Plastic Products, All Rights Reserved.