Those that are old enough certainly remember this scene where Dustin Hoffman gets enlightened in 'The Graduate' (1967).
Since that time 'plastic' has come to mean different things to different people. I'm one of those that used to think the move to plastics cheapened products that were formerly made of metal or wood (or even glass). In thinking about my Classic telescopes I realize I have come to highly prize my cast iron mounts, focusers and brass fixtures. But in the 50+ years since 'The Graduate' was made there has been an evolution in plastic manufacturing process. Phrases like 'breaks' easily' contrasted with 'built like a tank' have shifted to highlight benefits of these rather remarkable chemical compounds. Words like 'composite', 'resin', and 'carbon fiber' have crept into marketing to counteract the negatives (at least here in the US) associated with the word 'plastic'.
The diversity of plastics today is probably best understood when making use of a 3D printer to 'print' something, say like a case for some electronic device. Many different types of plastic feed stock are available to emphasize flexibility or stiffness, durability, temperature tolerance (both hot and cold), density, and of course color. And we can't forget that ecologically, due to the widespread use of a myriad of various types of plastic touching every aspect of our lives, that we have created some of the worst environmental issues we presently face with burgeoning landfills full of plastic waste that will never really be anything other than what it currently is today.
But speaking for Classic telescopes and their kits, how do you all consider the incorporation of various plastics into telescope manufacture affecting (both positively and negatively) your perceived usability, durability and value?
I consider Bakelite (polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride) the first plastic. It is incorporated into many accys going back to its patent date (1909). So we have lived with it for a long time. In the 1960's things kind of took off and injection molding made huge leaps in ability to make intricate parts. (Think about bolsa wood model planes versus twisting those little, highly detailed plastic parts off of their plastic panels and being able to have a finished model that looked truly like a miniature version of the real thing).
I want to contrast these trade offs with the evolution of some of my Goto telescopes as Goto-san 'innovated'. Pretty interesting.