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Plastics Hall of Fame Member Irvin I. Rubin Dies at Age 93

Irvin I. Rubin

(June 29, 2012) Plastics Hall of Fame Member Irvin I. (Irv) Rubin died at his home in Brooklyn on June 25, at age 93.  Rubin was well known and well-liked within the plastics industry community.  He knew the molding business inside and out, was generous in sharing his knowledge and had a quick and sometimes acerbic wit. 

Rubin, who was past chair of the Plastics History and Artifact Committee of the Plastics Pioneers Association, donated his extensive papers and collection of molded plastic items to the Plastics Collection at the Syracuse University Library in 2010.  The Irvin I. Rubin Papers play an important role in documenting many aspects of the rise of injection molding in the post-World War II period, and the widespread success of American family-owned plastics manufacturing companies from 1945 to 1975.  

Rubin received his BS in chemistry in 1938 from City College of New York and earned credits at Brooklyn College towards his Master's. His career in plastics began in 1940 when he became technical director of the molding plant of Robinson Plastics Corp., owned by his uncle Sol Robinson.  From 1942 to 1945 he was chief shift chemist at Montrose Chemical Co., in charge of producing tri-cresyl phosphate plasticizer for PVC cable for the war effort. From 1945 to 1946 he ran the manufacturing plant of Columbia Plastic Products, which fabricated acrylic items.  He rejoined Robinson in 1946 and bought the company in 1967. He also started a second company, Irvin Rubin Plastics Corp., which made medical devices and equipment. 

For more than sixty years Rubin was a successful manufacturer, entrepreneur, and innovator specializing in custom injection molding. In 2002 Rubin recorded an oral history for the Chemical Heritage Foundation in which he related many stories from the early days of injection molding, when on-site innovation and quick thinking often made the difference between failure and success.  It was from these hands-on experiences and his frequent adaptation to new materials, processes and products that Rubin gained the experience that was valued by clients and which he distilled into his books and numerous presentations.

Rubin’s technical contributions to the industry include the development of vacuum metalizing on polystyrene as a commercial process for industrial lamp parts and the development of methods for the internal carving and coloring of fabricated acrylic parts. In the late 1960s he assisted in the production of the first injection-molded thoracic drainage system, dubbed the Pleur-evac, which is still manufactured and sold today.

As an author, Rubin literally wrote the book on injection molding. His Injection Molding, Theory and Practice, published in 1972, is a definitive book in the field and one of the best-selling books ever in the plastics industry.  Rubin also edited and contributed to the Handbook of Plastics Materials and Technology, and published many book chapters and articles about molding.  He was active for decades as a lecturer and seminar leader for the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) and other organizations. He was an SPE fellow, very active in SPE’s Injection Molding Division and New York Section.

Irv Rubin is survived by his wife, Laura, daughter Julie Reider, and son Jesse Rubin.