After graduating at the age of just 21, Giulio Natta joined the Politecnico’s Istituto di Chimica Generale, then one of the most active research centers in Italy.
Beginning in 1938 he served as Chair of Industrial Chemistry at the Politecnico di Milano for 35 years. In Milan he directed the Istituto di Chimica Industriale and carried out important research for the production of synthetic rubber, and in 1954 he succeeded in establishing a laboratory for polypropylene.
After the Second World War, he met engineer Piero Giustiniani and began his work with the Montecatini company. This was one of the most fruitful collaborative efforts between university and industry in the postwar period, leading to the production of some 4000 patents.
The scientific community awarded Giulio Natta the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1963 in merit of his extraordinary invention of isotactic polypropylene. The social consequences of this discovery were numerous in every sector, and led to the industrial production of an irreplaceable material.
This object, dating from around 1950, comes from the laboratory used by Giulio Natta at the Politecnico di Milano. We could ideally conceive that the isotactic polypropylene for which Natta won the 1963 Nobel Prize in chemistry was created on it. Also on the workbench are anastatic copies of some autograph pages penned by Natta, and beside them is a spatial molecular model of isotactic polypropylene. Exhibited in the display case in front of the workbench are copies of the medal and diploma for the Nobel Prize.
The press consists of a mold divided into two equal parts and a plunger. The mold constitutes the negative of the object to be made, and the plunger, actuated by a hand lever, compresses the polymer into the mold, electrically heated beforehand. once the operation is completed, the plunger is removed, the mold is opened, and the object realized can be extracted.
The Montedison Collection consists of many objects made of technopolymer. The Rabolini Collection formed its original nucleus, which was collected and enlarged by Anna Rabolini between 1975 and 1982. it comprises 517 pieces dating between the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century and provides an interesting testimony of the fruits of the collaboration between Natta and Montecatini.
Giulio Castelli, a pupil of Natta, graduated from the Politecnico in 1949 with a degree in chemical engineering. That same year he founded Kartell, an internationally affirmed company, recognized for its innovative production of furnishings made of plastic. in 1956 Castelli was among the founders of the Associazione per il Disegno industriale, which promoted the Compasso d’oro award. These objects are two characteristic examples of Kartell’s production.