Former Dow research chemist Ray McIntyre invented STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Insulation, triggering development of many indispensable insulation products used around the world.
Born in 1918, Otis Ray McIntyre graduated from the University of Kansas in 1940 with a B.S. degree in engineering. He immediately went to work as a research engineer for The Dow Chemical Company. During World War II, when rubber was in short supply, McIntyre's work focused on developing a rubber-like substance that could be used as a flexible insulator. In an experiment in which he combined styrene with isobutylene, he created a unique material that was solid yet flexible due to the tiny bubbles formed by isobutylene within the styrene.
McIntyre remained at Dow for his entire career. He was promoted to research director, and later worked in the company's consumer and venture capital divisions. He retired in 1981 as Dow's director of technology and acquisition, and died in 1996 at the age of 77.
On May 3, 2008, Ray McIntyre was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, joining nearly 400 Americans who helped elevate the human condition with inventions that transformed lives and future horizons. Inductees to the Hall include Herbert Henry Dow (founder of The Dow Chemical Company), Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.
More About STYROFOAM™
Patented in 1944 as STYROFOAM™, this new material was lightweight but also durable, and exhibited outstanding thermal and moisture-resistant properties. The first application was as an "unsinkable" buoyancy billet by the U.S. Coast Guard in their six-man life rafts. Before the end of the war, both the Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy were using unsinkable STYROFOAM™ Brand Buoyancy Billets in a wide range of watercraft for the products' insulation properties and buoyancy.
By the 1950s, STYROFOAM™ Brand products started making a significant impact in the construction market, replacing cork in varied low-temperature applications, and as a thermal barrier in the walls and roofs of institutional and commercial buildings. Pretty soon, the residential construction sector was using this indispensable material for below-grade insulation in the foundations and perimeters of slab-constructed homes.
Today, STYROFOAM™ Brand Insulation is one of the leading brands of insulation in the world. STYROFOAM™ Brand products are used in a variety of insulation applications, from rooftops to basement walls. Other applications range from marine buoyancy billets to core foam to floral, art and craft products.
Most STYROFOAM™ Brand products are easily recognized by a distinctive trademark BLUE™ color.