Erich Bäder, Chemist

The founder of polymer chemistry at Degussa


Erich Bäder is considered to be the founding father of polymer chemistry of Evonik Industries.


Degussa

* 1922, Schorndorf

† 2004, Hanau

Erich Bäder is considered to be the founding father of polymer chemistry at Degussa, today the Chemicals Business Area of Evonik.

Born in 1922 in Schorndorf, he studied chemistry in Stuttgart after WWII and in 1951 was awarded his doctorate under Prof. Hellmut Bredereck at the Institute for Organic Chemistry and Organo-chemical Technology. His dissertation was on “Derivatives of aromatic sulfinic acids and their use in initiating polymerization.” During this time, he also worked on the development of a new fast-reacting hardener for filling teeth based on methyl methacrylate for the Degussa holding Kulzer & Co. The result of this research was the dental plastic PALAVIT F.

On September 1, 1952, Bäder joined the Chemistry research group at the Wolfgang branch of the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt (as from 1980: Degussa AG). There he worked on the development of catalysts and their application in different types of polymers. At that time, the company had its own preliminary components for polymer chemistry - acetone cyanohydrine and formaldehyde - but had no expertise in the area. Bäder's research was to change this. After he switched from research to plastic processing in 1959, he was appointed manager of the Polymer Research Chemistry unit. In this position, he was in charge of research into and development of polymethyl methacrylate, polyformaldehyde, polyacrolein and lactam polymerization.

Inspired by the success of PALAVIT F, Bäder then worked on developing new fillers and adhesives based on unsaturated polyester resins. The metal adhesives, sold under the name of AGOMET, were a big economic success. At the same time, Bäder initiated development work on casting reactive resins and on the polymerization of acrylic acid and methacrylic acid esters, which culminated in the acrylic glass products PARAGLAS, DEWOGLAS and DEGLAS. His involvement was also crucial to the development of polymethyl methacrylic molding compounds which were launched on the market under the name of DEGALAN. DEGLAS® is still manufactured today as a subsidiary brand by the PLEXIGLAS® manufacturer Evonik Röhm GmbH in Darmstadt—part of Evonik’s Chemicals Business Area.

Bäder’s most successful research was the development of polyoxymethylene plastics which reached market maturity under the name of ULTRAFORM in 1969. Throughout all this, Erich Bäder also worked as the Chief Executive of Ultraform GmbH, which was founded by Degussa and BASF AG to this purpose. Five years later, he returned to Degussa and took over the management of the Carbonization Business Unit until he left the company in 1981. Bäder was the first and most important polymer chemist at the old Degussa. Many successful plastic technologies date back to his time there. He was distinguished in particular by a feeling for the demands imposed in practice, and by a determination to succeed. He was also exceptionally committed and exhibited a talent for application technology.

Dr. Erich Bäder died February 15, 2004 in Hanau.