We have come quite some way since the beginning of our journey in Chapter 1, when we spoke of Europe emerging from the shadows of the Second World War with the help of the polyurethane industry. What a difference six decades can make!
Since then we’ve looked at developments everywhere from aviation, to the space race, and even to fashion! So what about the Nineties? What more could polyurethanes have to offer the world? The answer: a lot!
Sticking to some of the old themes, in the world of construction we witnessed the erection of the Petronas Twin Towers, which officially opened in 1999 in Kuala Lumpur. The Towers, which took seven years to build, were the tallest buildings in the world until surpassed by Taipei 101 in 2004! Three guesses on who holds the record today.
Between the introduction of the internet and mobile phones, technological innovation was at its prime during the Nineties! While these two inventions were reserved for the rich and elite, early digital cable TV reached out to many Europeans and allowed them to watch their favourite TV series, be it Friends or Pokémon, or play their favourite PlayStation game, as was fashionable at the time. And not forgetting our old portable CD players, introduced during the late 1980s, compact discs became very popular and had a profound impact on the music industry and youth culture in the 1990s. Sorry, we digress, of course polyurethanes played a role here in this fantastic period technological innovation, as polyurethane top coats protect plastic covers of the television set, the mobile phone and the CD player, from outside influences including chemicals or light. More importantly, however, the top coat was essential for coloring and design; we may look back at the outdated and oversized innovations and laugh but they truly were fashionable at the time!
In the world of sport, 1990 marked the dominance of the polyurethane football. Later that decade, Manchester United won an unprecedented treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League after dramatically defeating Bayern Munich 2–1 in May 1999. Unfortunately we believe it was linked to our new football rather than Solskjær’s brilliant goal
The first passive house came into our midst in Darmstadt, Germany in 1990, introducing the first energy efficient type of “low-energy” buildings. Much like our own Polyurethanes Passive House, the novel architectural and environmental designs incorporated in the Passivhaus approach ensured inhabitants a comfortable indoor climate both throughout winter and summer in addition to lower energy bills.
As if a low energy, sustainable, and cost saving home wasn’t enough, made available in the Nineties were the first commercial polyurethane memory foam mattresses, designed to support the body’s contours for a perfect night’s sleep. Memory foam became a popular form of polyurethane, which adapts to the shape of a person’s body, ensuring restful sleep and has also since become widely used in hospitals, where it helps to prevent pressure sores in people who are bed-bound over long periods of time.
So there you have it, the penultimate chapter of our series of “Polyurethane throughout the Ages.” Don’t forget to stay tuned to read the final chapter, or why not catch up on the previous chapters that you may have missed, here.