1958: Only five years after the first laboratory trials, Bayer begins producing Makrolon® on an industrial scale in Uerdingen. The product was transparent and, in the words of the advertising at that time, had a "glorious golden glow". Because of its excellent insulating effect, it was used primarily in the electrical industry, for example for transparent fuse box covers.
1963: Makrolon® comes into its own as an unbreakable plastic for kitchen-ware and camping utensils. At the plastics fair in Düsseldorf, visitors were fascinated by the lightweight plates, cups, dishes and bowls made of this exciting young plastic.
In a comprehensive market survey carried out by the DIVO Institute in Frankfurt, 88 percent of those asked said that plastics now formed an integral part of their lives and thought that new and ever better plastic items would constantly appear on the market in the future. The study thus confirmed that, gradually, people were ceasing to regard plastics just as cheap substitutes, born of necessity.
1967: Makrolon® is now being used for a broad range of products: Housings for electrical measuring equipment, mobile phones, power plugs, switchboards, car rear lamps, canteen trays, thermos flasks, tea strainers, hairdryer and binocular housings, milking cans, film cassettes, switch relays, fishing rod reels, traffic-light housings and lenses, electric hair curlers and chocolate molds for confectionery production.
1971: Twin-walled and solid sheet of Makrolon® is much more break-resistant and much lighter than a pane of glass. It is therefore not surprising that, soon after its launch, it began conquering the world market as glazing for greenhouses and conservatories. The Bayer plastic also became the ideal material for stylish roof structures. But its success in the construction industry was only possible because the chemists had since succeeded in virtually eliminating the material's cognac-colored tint. In its "glass-clear" form, it allowed light to flood into rooms. The construction industry is still one of the biggest customers for Makrolon®. The most recent prominent example of the use of Makrolon® polycarbonate sheeting is the RheinEnergie stadium that the city of Cologne is building for the World Soccer Cup in 2006.
1976: Bayer begins to market blends of Makrolon® with other plastics. With their tailor-made properties, these high-performance blends have since become established in applications such as office machine and computer housings and in the automotive industry, where they are used, for example, for instrument panels and center consoles.
At the beginning of the nineteen-eighties: Makrolon® is increasingly used in oxygenators to take over the work of the heart and lung during bypass operations or when implanting artificial cardiac valves. It is also used in blood reservoirs and blood filters. The main reasons for its popularity in such applications are its break resistance and its absolute transparency to allow rapid monitoring of the blood flow. These attributes also make it an ideal material for dialyzers for kidney patients. Makrolon® has played a major role in making dialysis a simple, everyday procedure for the patient.
Makrolon® is also broadly represented in other areas of medical technology – for example in valves for infusion and centrifuge systems. Among the most recent developments involving Makrolon® are inhalers with special dosage techniques and needleless syringes in which the medication is inserted under the skin without a pinprick.
1982: The birth of the audio CD: On August 17, PolyGram begins large-scale production of the first CD. It contains classical music, with Claudio Arrau interpreting various waltzes by Frederic Chopin on the piano. Polygram's first pop music CD was the album "The Visitors" by the group ABBA.
Together with Philips and PolyGram, Bayer develops a special technology for compact discs. It involves a tailor-made grade of Makrolon® that is still used today – although it has been modified several times since then – by Bayer MaterialScience as the base material for all optical storage media.
1992: In Europe, too, transparent plastics have now almost taken over from glass in car headlamps. It was a trend that began in the United States and Japan back in the nineteen-eighties. Makrolon® owes its popularity for this application above all to its low weight and outstanding impact resistance, and it has opened up vast design scope for car manufacturers. Some of the modern headlamps that fit so harmoniously into the complex contours of the body would be impossible to manufacture from glass.
The same year, the five-gallon returnable polycarbonate water bottle makes its debut in Europe, although it was already a common sight in the United States. Makrolon®'s forte for this application is its ruggedness and lightness. The bottle weighs just 0.8 kg and can withstand more than 50 round trips. In 2002 alone, some 0.5 billion liters of drinking water was filled into new Makrolon® bottles, which is equivalent to the volume of water the river Rhine pours into Lake Constance in a period of about 23 minutes.
1996: The CD is joined by a powerful brother: the digital versatile disc or DVD. At first sight, it is virtually indistinguishable from a CD, but its storage capacity of 4.7 gigabytes is more than seven times as great. A DVD can accommodate a 135-minute movie film, which is one of the reasons why the film industry was the driving force behind DVD development. World-wide, approximately one third of all optical data carriers – and this includes CD-Rs (recordable) and CD-RWs (rewritable) – are made of Makrolon®. In Europe, Bayer MaterialScience is the market leader in these applications with its polycarbonate.
2000: Bayer signs the first co-branding agreements. Under the agreements, partner companies who use Makrolon® will label their products throughout Europe with the words "Made of Makrolon®". As a result, Bayer MaterialScience is underscoring the outstanding quality of the plastic and building Makrolon® into a well-known brand among consumers.
2003: Eternally young Makrolon®. Invented 50 years ago, this Bayer MaterialScience plastic is still a material with a future. Because it has such a unique combination of outstanding properties, it repeatedly succeeds in tapping new fields of application, and because these properties can also be largely customized, Makrolon® will be suitable for the products of tomorrow, too. That is why Bayer MaterialScience is so optimistic: In 2005, this Bayer AG division is aiming to produce and sell around 1,000 kg of the high-tech plastic every minute – in Europe alone.