The other day I went to the hardware store and asked the young assistant for some Perspex. He looked at me like I was crazy until I explained I wanted some acrylic sheets – that plastic glass-like stuff. “Oh, you mean Plexiglass,” he said.
Of course, we were both right, since generic acrylic sheets are sold under a different number of brand names, including Lucite, Acrylite, Oroglas, Altuglas, Optix, Plaskolite, in addition to the Perspex and Plexiglass names. And it is very interesting to me how a brand name bestows such value and quality and descriptive marketing help on an almost generic product. Most of these brand names are from different manufacturers on different continents and gives them a way to distinguish their products. This results in a little brand name warfare, but that sure beats trying to compete in a fully generic component marketplace like plain window glass manufacturers do daily.
In other cases, you may need different names for a very similar line of products as you take them into different industries. In the plastics world, once again, it is not unusual for a product to have a scientific name, a house brand name, a special name for the medical industry, and another special name for the aircraft industry say. This lets you sell different ‘flavors’ (e.g. purity) of the same product at different price points and through different channels. More than that, these brands help differentiate, separate and preserve products and product handling properly within your own company. It sure beats people running around asking “did you mean -782 or -xx type?” when only suffixes spell out the subtle differences.
If you want to see all the history behind this very interesting product family, including brief discussions of the chemistry, see the Acrylic Glass page on Wikipedia.
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