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A high-molecular-weight substance characterized by its gummy or tacky consistency at certain temperatures. Naturally occurring resins include congo copal and bitumen (found as fossils), shellac (from insects), and rosin (from pine trees). Synthetic resins include the wide variety of plastic materials available today and any distinction between plastics and resins is at best arbitrary.

The first partially successful resins were produced in 1862 using nitrocellulose, vegetable oils, and camphor, and included Xylonite and later, in 1869, celluloid. The first totally synthetic resin was bakelite, which was produced by L. H. Baekelan in 1910 from phenol and methanal (formaldehyde). The work in the 1920s of H. Staudinger on the polymeric natural of natural rubber and styrene resin, which laid the theoretical basis for polymer science, was a major factor in stimulating the rapid development of a wide range of synthetic plastics and resins.

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