An inspirational brand for 90 years

PLEXIGLAS® has been an inspiration since its very first application – after all, the brand polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) from Röhm is the material of choice for creative designs and innovative projects thanks to its versatile properties and intelligent functions.

Had it not been for chance, the wide range of ideas and applications for PLEXIGLAS® may never have existed: In the 1930s, Dr. Otto Röhm and his team at Röhm & Haas were researching how to produce a type of transparent, synthetic rubber. One day, they left an experimental compound on the windowsill. The sunlight triggered a reaction – and the next day, the astounded researchers discovered a new type of plastic: acrylic glass, whose correct chemical name is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). During further experiments, the team was successful in polymerizing the raw material in a controlled manner between conventional glass panes thereby producing thin acrylic panels. The new material was named “PLEXIGLAS” and registered as a brand on August 9, 1933.

However, Röhm & Haas was not only successfully investigating the production of PLEXIGLAS® sheets at that time. The chemists were also working on the development of molding compounds for use in the injection molding process, which opened up a wealth of opportunities in terms of component design and plastic processing. This also made low-cost series production in large quantities possible.

PLEXIGLAS® is the original. We invented it and we see ourselves as a partner for customers who want to develop something new.

Michael Pack,
CEO Röhm GmbH

From Darmstadt to worldwide

Today, Röhm GmbH offers an extensive product portfolio of PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds for all kinds of injection molding and extrusion applications and PLEXIGLAS® sheets, tubes, rods and films. The products are used in countless sectors: ranging from the automotive and lighting industry to the household appliance, furniture manufacturing and shopfitting industries to architecture and greenhouse construction and spectacular large-scale aquariums and deep-sea submersibles. “Röhm has been there right from the very start in many fields of application and has collaborated on the design of countless innovations since then,” says Siamak Djafarian, Senior Vice President Molding Compounds at Röhm.

Journey through time with PLEXIGLAS® lens design

Historical writing utensils, Stenop lenses and an ultra-precision modern TIR lens made of PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds
© Evonik Industries AG, Essen, Konzernarchiv | © kdg Opticomp GmbH

The first series-produced components made of PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds were manufactured as early as 1936/1937 as 5-millimeter-long rods with a flat and concave base. A microfilm with a souvenir picture was attached to the flat base. Viewed from the concave side, the picture was enlarged. Also referred to as “Stenops”, these lenses were inserted in pens; they contained a photo of the vacation spot and were sold as souvenirs. Today, PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds are still being used for the production of lenses – however, they are far more complex than their historical predecessors. See, for example, the total internal reflection lens system (TIR) lens LFO.

Journey through time with PLEXIGLAS® automotive design

Taillights designed with PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds
© Röhm GmbH

The automotive industry has been using PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds since the 1950s for small round taillight covers. They were used to replace the glass covers used at the time. Today, PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds enable the manufacture of large taillights and striking light guides for unique signature lights that make it easy to recognize a vehicle brand even from a large distance. See, for example the Audi A6 or the DS 4 of the French premium brand, DS Automobiles.

Journey through time with PLEXIGLAS® automotive design

Old car cockpit from the 1950s, modern-day car cockpit
© Radoslaw Maciejewski – | © Volkswagen AG

Instrument covers in vehicles have been made using PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds as early as the 1950s. Today, PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds are used in multifunctional displays, such as here in the ID.ROOMZZ from Volkswagen.

Journey through time with PLEXIGLAS® in household applications

Salad cutlery made of PMMA and the thermomix
© Evonik Industries AG, Essen, Konzernarchiv | © Vorwerk

In the 1950s, PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds also made their way into the kitchen – e.g. in the form of eye-catching transparent salad cutlery or bowls. Today, they give a premium finish to surface enhancements for high-quality kitchen aids such as the Vorwerk Thermomix.

Journey through time with PLEXIGLAS® used in hi-fi systems

Radio record player combination Phonosuper SK 4 from Braun and the Selekt DSM network player from Linn
© Röhm GmbH – Fotograf: 4ft | © Linn

As early as 1956, PLEXIGLAS® stood for innovative design – such as for the legendary radio record player combination Phonosuper SK 4 from Braun, which was dubbed “Snow White’s coffin” due to its transparent PLEXIGLAS® cover. Today, PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds enable what is also called the black panel effect, which transforms a black surface into a true-color display such as for this network player from Linn.

Journey through time with PLEXIGLAS® lighting design

VP Globe pendant lights from Verner Panton and Ameluna from Artemide
© Verner Panton Design AG, photosymbol Verpan, Denmark | © Artemide, Ameluna by Artemide; Design: Mercedes-Benz Style

In 1969, the moon landing inspired Danish designer Verner Panton to create his futuristic VP Globe luminaire. It is an iconic space age design object whose aesthetic reflects a belief in technology and the future. Even today, lighting designers are bringing their bold ideas to life with PLEXIGLAS® – such as Artemide in its Ameluna pendant luminaire – which draws inspiration from the bioluminescence of deep-sea creatures and therefore appears as if is illuminated from within.

Journey through time with PLEXIGLAS® in architecture

PLEXIGLAS® in architecture: Roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich and GEALAN window systems
© Evonik Industries AG, Essen, Konzernarchiv © GEALAN Fenster-Systeme GmbH

The Olympic Stadium in Munich was built for the Summer Olympics 1972; today it is one of the city’s landmarks. A particularly exceptional feature is the roof made of PLEXIGLAS®. Even today, the brand can still be found in architecture, for example as a surface enhancement for windows and doors.

Ready for the today’s challenges

90 years after its trademark application, we encounter PLEXIGLAS® everywhere, whether at home, at work, in stores or restaurants and on and in cars or buildings. The brand polymethyl methacrylate is a versatile plastic that offers excellent light transmittance and extraordinary weather resistance. PMMA is lightweight, has the highest surface hardness of any thermoplastic material, can be processed using all thermoplastic methods, and enables high reproduction accuracy of the smallest of structures during injection molding. With 13 production sites around the world, PLEXIGLAS® manufacturer Röhm is a reliable global partner and is actively expanding its capacity, both in production and in technical service.

High-performance and recyclable plastics such as PLEXIGLAS® contribute to a more sustainable and climate-neutral economy.

Michael Pack,
CEO Röhm GmbH

PLEXIGLAS® is “sustainable by design”

The almost infinite design possibilities and the inspirational power of PLEXIGLAS® mean that solutions to the tremendous challenges of our time can be found. For example, light guides made from PLEXIGLAS® have been part of energy-saving LED lighting concepts for years, and actively help to reduce the power consumption in supermarkets and sports arenas, for example. Meanwhile, the brand PMMA reduces the need for heating in greenhouses for professional uses by acting as a lens to bundle sunlight in a collector or as a multi-skin sheet for thermal insulation. PLEXIGLAS® is even ideal for use as tubes in bioreactors for cultivating microalgae and whose unsurpassed light transmission of 92 percent is permanently maintained – even when out in the open air.

The extraordinary UV and weather resistance are the hallmarks of products from PLEXIGLAS® brand, which in turn make them extremely durable. The material thus enables applications with a long service life, contributing to the careful use of resources.

When the component does finally reach the end of its life cycle, PMMA can also be recycled multiple times without any noteworthy deterioration in its properties – as is the case for PLEXIGLAS® proTerra sheets and PLEXIGLAS® proTerra molding compounds. In the year of its 90th birthday, ISCC PLUS certified PLEXIGLAS® proTerra molding compounds made from sustainably sourced raw materials were launched on the market. “Our resource-friendly molding compounds are an example of why PLEXIGLAS® is fresher than ever,” says Djafarian. “Our experts are always reinventing PLEXIGLAS®, enhancing its performance with every new generation and continuously adapting it to meet the requirements of today.”