Irvin I. Rubin

Born: February 1919 | Brooklyn, NY, US
Died: June 25, 2012 | Brooklyn, NY, US

Irvin I. Rubin discusses his career in the plastics industry, working in a wide range of positions such as a consultant, Chief Shift Scientist, and Plant Manager at various companies. After working at Robinson Plastics Corporations, Montrose Chemical Company, and Columbia Plastic Products Manufacturing Corporations, Rubin eventually became owner of Robinson Plastics and founded RLR Industries, Inc. Throughout his career, Rubin has been dedicated to the dissemination of plastics education, and now in retirement, he finds himself working toward the preservation of the rich history of the revolutionary plastics industry. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0235
No. of pages: 162
Minutes: 311

Interview Sessions

James G. Traynham
26 February 2002
Brooklyn, New York

Abstract of Interview

Irvin I. Rubin begins the interview by describing his family history and how he came to work in the plastics industry. Throughout the interview Rubin describes in great detail the intricacies of working with plastic, starting with the injection molding process. Rubin began working at Robinson Plastics Corporation not long after its inception. There he developed his intuitive knowledge of plastic molding, and began to work as a consultant. A brief interruption to his career at Robinson occurred in 1942 when Rubin was drafted and subsequently released from duty. During the next four years, Rubin worked as the Chief Shift Scientist at Montrose Chemical Company and then as Acrylics Plant Manager at Columbia Plastic Products Manufacturing Corporation, before returning to Robinson Plastics in 1946 as Plant Manager. Rubin eventually become owner of the company and, additionally, founded RLR industries, Inc. in 1958. Throughout his career, Rubin has been dedicated to the dissemination of plastics education, and now in retirement, finds himself working toward the preservation of the rich history of the revolutionary plastics industry. In an effort to share his knowledge of the industry's rapid progress, Rubin has run seminars, contributed to or written numerous publications, and is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. Irvin Rubin concludes the interview by reflecting on the profound impact the plastics industry has had on our everyday lives.


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1938 City College of New York BS Chemistry
1940 Brooklyn College Graduate School

Professional Experience

Robinson Plastics Corporation

1940 to 1942
Technical Director
1946 to 1947
Plant Manager
1967 to 2003
Owner and President

Montrose Chemical Company

1942 to 1945
Chief Shift Chemist

Columbia Plastic Products Manufacturing Company

1945 to 1946
Acrylics Plant Manager

RLR Industries, Inc.

1958 to 1968
Founder and Vice President

Irvin I. Rubin Plastics Corporation

1962 to 2003
Owner and President


Year(s) Award

Fellow, Society of Plastics Engineers


Member, Plastics Hall of Fame

Table of Contents

Personal Background and Early Interests in Science

Family background. Childhood and early schooling experiences. Wife and children. Interest in science and getting involved in plastics.

Early Career

Sol M. Robinson. Description of the injection molding process. Start of Robinsons Plastics Corporation and employment there. Experiences with the government. Work for Montrose Chemical Company and Columbia Plastic Products Manufacturing Corporation. Formation of RLR Industries, Inc.

Educational Outreach

Activities with the Society of Plastics Engineers. Creation and running of seminar programs in plastics education. Authoring book on injection molding and other writing projects. Recollection of rewarding teaching experiences.

Recollection of Selected Projects

Use of vacuum metalizing on plastics. Molding Lexan. Experience with Clinique Laboratories. Accounts of working with customers of RLR Industries, Inc. Work with Craftool Company. Setting up schools for Chinese mold builders at the request of the United Nations.

Historical Efforts and Concluding Thoughts

Collection of plastics history through the Plastics Pioneers Association in conjunction with Chemical Heritage Foundation. Historical programs with the Society of Plastic Engineers. Career successes. Chief contributions to the field of plastic molding. Reflection on the ubiquity of plastics in everyday life.


I. Mold ChecklistII. Correcting Molding FaultsIII. Piece Part DesignIV: Invitation to Participate in the PPA History Project Sent to all PPA MembersV: Figures 1 through 37


About the Interviewer

James G. Traynham

James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.