Leo Henricus Arthur Baekeland FRSE(Hon) (November 14, 1863 – February 23, 1944) was a Belgian-American chemist. He is best known for the inventions of Velox photographic paper in 1893 and Bakelite in 1907. He has been called "The Father of the Plastics Industry" for his invention of Bakelite, an inexpensive, nonflammable and versatile plastic, which marked the beginning of the modern plastics industry.
The invention of Bakelite marks the beginning of the age of plastics. Bakelite was the first plastic invented that retained its shape after being heated. Radios, telephones and electrical insulators were made of Bakelite because of its excellent electrical insulation and heat-resistance. Soon its applications spread to most branches of industry.
Baekeland received many awards and honors, including the Perkin Medal in 1916 and the Franklin Medal in 1940. In 1978 he was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame at Akron, Ohio.
At Baekeland's death in 1944, the world production of Bakelite was ca. 175,000 tons, and it was used in over 15,000 different products. He held more than 100 patents, including processes for the separation of copper and cadmium, and for the impregnation of wood.