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Plastic

Plastic

Overview
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

 solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymer
Polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

s of high molecular mass
Molecular mass
The molecular mass of a substance is the mass of one molecule of that substance, in unified atomic mass unit u...

, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs. Monomers of plastic are either natural or synthetic organic compounds.

The word plastic is derived from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 πλαστικός (plastikos) meaning capable of being shaped or molded, from πλαστός (plastos) meaning molded.
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Encyclopedia
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

 solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymer
Polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

s of high molecular mass
Molecular mass
The molecular mass of a substance is the mass of one molecule of that substance, in unified atomic mass unit u...

, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs. Monomers of plastic are either natural or synthetic organic compounds.

The word plastic is derived from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 πλαστικός (plastikos) meaning capable of being shaped or molded, from πλαστός (plastos) meaning molded. It refers to their malleability, or plasticity
Plasticity (physics)
In physics and materials science, plasticity describes the deformation of a material undergoing non-reversible changes of shape in response to applied forces. For example, a solid piece of metal being bent or pounded into a new shape displays plasticity as permanent changes occur within the...

 during manufacture, that allows them to be cast
Casting
In metalworking, casting involves pouring liquid metal into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowing it to cool and solidify. The solidified part is also known as a casting, which is ejected or broken out of the mold to complete the process...

, pressed, or extruded into a variety of shapes—such as film
Artificial membrane
An artificial membrane, or synthetic membrane, is a synthetically created membrane which is usually intended for separation purposes in laboratory or in industry. Synthetic membranes have been successfully used for small and large-scale industrial processes since the middle of twentieth century. A...

s, fibers
Synthetic fiber
Synthetic fibers are the result of extensive research by scientists to improve on naturally occurring animal and plant fibers. In general, synthetic fibers are created by forcing, usually through extrusion, fiber forming materials through holes into the air, forming a thread...

, plates, tubes, bottles, boxes, and much more.

The common word plastic should not be confused with the technical adjective plastic, which is applied to any material which undergoes a permanent change of shape (plastic deformation) when strained beyond a certain point. Aluminum which is stamped or forged, for instance, exhibits plasticity in this sense, but is not plastic in the common sense; in contrast, in their finished forms, some plastics will break before deforming and therefore are not plastic in the technical sense.

There are two types of plastics: thermoplastic
Thermoplastic
Thermoplastic, also known as a thermosoftening plastic, is a polymer that turns to a liquid when heated and freezes to a very glassy state when cooled sufficiently...

s and thermosetting polymers. Thermoplastics are the plastics that do not undergo chemical change in their composition when heated and can be moulded again and again; examples are polyethylene
Polyethylene
Polyethylene or polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons...

, polypropylene
Polypropylene
Polypropylene , also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, textiles , stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes...

, polystyrene
Polystyrene
Polystyrene ) also known as Thermocole, abbreviated following ISO Standard PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry...

, polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

 and polytetrafluoroethylene
Polytetrafluoroethylene
Polytetrafluoroethylene is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that finds numerous applications. PTFE is most well known by the DuPont brand name Teflon....

 (PTFE). Thermosets can melt and take shape once; after they have solidified, they stay solid.

The raw materials needed to make most plastics come from petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

.

Overview


Plastics can be classified by chemical structure
Chemical structure
A chemical structure includes molecular geometry, electronic structure and crystal structure of molecules. Molecular geometry refers to the spatial arrangement of atoms in a molecule and the chemical bonds that hold the atoms together. Molecular geometry can range from the very simple, such as...

, namely the molecular units
Radical (chemistry)
Radicals are atoms, molecules, or ions with unpaired electrons on an open shell configuration. Free radicals may have positive, negative, or zero charge...

 that make up the polymer's backbone and side chain
Side chain
In organic chemistry and biochemistry, a side chain is a chemical group that is attached to a core part of the molecule called "main chain" or backbone. The placeholder R is often used as a generic placeholder for alkyl group side chains in chemical structure diagrams. To indicate other non-carbon...

s. Some important groups in these classifications are the acrylics
Acryl group
In organic chemistry, the acryloyl group is the functional group with structure H2C=CH–C–; it is the acyl group derived from acrylic acid. The preferred IUPAC name for the group is prop-2-enoyl, and it is also known as acrylyl or simply acryl...

, polyester
Polyester
Polyester is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate...

s, silicones, polyurethanes, and halogenated plastics
Halocarbon
Halocarbon compounds are chemicals in which one or more carbon atoms are linked by covalent bonds with one or more halogen atoms resulting in the formation of organofluorine compounds, organochlorine compounds, organobromine compounds, and organoiodine compounds...

. Plastics can also be classified by the chemical process used in their synthesis, such as condensation
Condensation reaction
A condensation reaction is a chemical reaction in which two molecules or moieties combine to form one single molecule, together with the loss of a small molecule. When this small molecule is water, it is known as a dehydration reaction; other possible small molecules lost are hydrogen chloride,...

, polyaddition, and cross-linking.

Other classifications are based on qualities that are relevant for manufacturing or product design
Product design
-Introduction:Product design is the process of creating a new product to be sold by a business or enterprise to its customers. It is concerned with the efficient and effective generation and development of ideas through a process that leads to new products.Product designers conceptualize and...

. Examples of such classes are the thermoplastic and thermoset, elastomer
Elastomer
An elastomer is a polymer with the property of viscoelasticity , generally having notably low Young's modulus and high yield strain compared with other materials. The term, which is derived from elastic polymer, is often used interchangeably with the term rubber, although the latter is preferred...

, structural
Engineering plastic
Engineering plastics are a group of plastic materials that exhibit superior mechanical and thermal properties in a wide range of conditions over and above more commonly used commodity plastics. The term usually refers to thermoplastic materials rather than thermosetting ones...

, biodegradable
Biodegradable plastic
Biodegradable plastics are plastics that will decompose in natural aerobic and anaerobic environments. Biodegradation of plastics can be achieved by enabling microorganisms in the environment to metabolize the molecular structure of plastic films to produce an inert humus-like material that is...

, and electrically conductive
Electrical resistance
The electrical resistance of an electrical element is the opposition to the passage of an electric current through that element; the inverse quantity is electrical conductance, the ease at which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the mechanical...

. Plastics can also be classified by various physical properties
Physical property
A physical property is any property that is measurable whose value describes a physical system's state. The changes in the physical properties of a system can be used to describe its transformations ....

, such as density
Density
The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

, tensile strength
Tensile strength
Ultimate tensile strength , often shortened to tensile strength or ultimate strength, is the maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled before necking, which is when the specimen's cross-section starts to significantly contract...

, glass transition temperature, and resistance to various chemical products.

Due to their relatively low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, and imperviousness to water, plastics are used in an enormous and expanding range of products, from paper clips to spaceships. They have already displaced many traditional materials, such as wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

, stone
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

, horn
Horn (anatomy)
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn surrounding a core of living bone. True horns are found mainly among the ruminant artiodactyls, in the families Antilocapridae and Bovidae...

 and bone
Bone
Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. Bone tissue is a type of dense connective tissue...

, leather
Leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

, paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

, metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

, glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

, and ceramic
Ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

, in most of their former uses.

The use of plastics is constrained chiefly by their organic chemistry, which seriously limits their properties, such as hardness, density, and resistance to heat, organic solvents, oxidation, and ionizing radiation
Ionizing radiation
Ionizing radiation is radiation composed of particles that individually have sufficient energy to remove an electron from an atom or molecule. This ionization produces free radicals, which are atoms or molecules containing unpaired electrons...

. In particular, most plastics will melt or decompose
Pyrolysis
Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without the participation of oxygen. It involves the simultaneous change of chemical composition and physical phase, and is irreversible...

 when heated to a few hundred degrees celsius
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

. While plastics can be made electrically conductive, with the conductivity of up to 80 kS/cm in stretch-oriented polyacetylene
Polyacetylene
Polyacetylene is an organic polymer with the repeat unit n. The high electrical conductivity discovered for these polymers beginning in the 1960's accelerated interest in the use of organic compounds in microelectronics...

, they are still no match for most metals like copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 which have conductivities of several hundreds kS/cm. Plastics are still too expensive to replace wood, concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 and ceramic in bulky items like ordinary building
Building
In architecture, construction, engineering, real estate development and technology the word building may refer to one of the following:...

s, bridge
Bridge
A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle...

s, dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s, pavement
Pavement (material)
Road surface or pavement is the durable surface material laid down on an area intended to sustain vehicular or foot traffic, such as a road or walkway. In the past cobblestones and granite setts were extensively used, but these surfaces have mostly been replaced by asphalt or concrete. Such...

, and railroad tie
Railroad tie
A railroad tie/railway tie , or railway sleeper is a rectangular item used to support the rails in railroad tracks...

s.

Chemical structure


Common thermoplastics range from 20,000 to 500,000 amu
Atomic mass unit
The unified atomic mass unit or dalton is a unit that is used for indicating mass on an atomic or molecular scale. It is defined as one twelfth of the rest mass of an unbound neutral atom of carbon-12 in its nuclear and electronic ground state, and has a value of...

, while thermosets are assumed to have infinite molecular weight. These chains are made up of many repeating molecular units, known as repeat units, derived from monomer
Monomer
A monomer is an atom or a small molecule that may bind chemically to other monomers to form a polymer; the term "monomeric protein" may also be used to describe one of the proteins making up a multiprotein complex...

s
; each polymer chain will have several thousand repeating units. The vast majority of plastics are composed of polymers of carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 and hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 alone or with oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

, nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

, chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 or sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

 in the backbone. (Some of commercial interests are silicon
Silicon
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

 based.) The backbone is that part of the chain on the main "path" linking a large number of repeat units together. To customize the properties of a plastic, different molecular groups "hang" from the backbone (usually they are "hung" as part of the monomers before linking monomers together to form the polymer chain). This fine tuning of the properties of the polymer by repeating unit's molecular structure has allowed plastics to become an indispensable part of twenty first-century world.

Some plastics are partially crystalline and partially amorphous in molecular structure, giving them both a melting point
Melting point
The melting point of a solid is the temperature at which it changes state from solid to liquid. At the melting point the solid and liquid phase exist in equilibrium. The melting point of a substance depends on pressure and is usually specified at standard atmospheric pressure...

 (the temperature at which the attractive intermolecular force
Intermolecular force
Intermolecular forces are forces of attraction or repulsion which act between neighboring particles: atoms, molecules or ions. They are weak compared to the intramolecular forces, the forces which keep a molecule together...

s are overcome) and one or more glass transitions (temperatures above which the extent of localized molecular flexibility is substantially increased). The so-called semi-crystalline
Crystallization of polymers
Crystallization of polymers is a process associated with partial alignment of their molecular chains. These chains fold together and form ordered regions called lamellae, which compose larger spheroidal structures named spherulites. Polymers can crystallize upon cooling from the melt, mechanical...

 plastics include polyethylene, polypropylene, poly (vinyl chloride), polyamides (nylons), polyesters and some polyurethanes. Many plastics are completely amorphous, such as polystyrene and its copolymers, poly (methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate is an organic compound with the formula CH2=CCOOCH3. This colourless liquid, the methyl ester of methacrylic acid is a monomer produced on a large scale for the production of poly .-Production:...

), and all thermosets.


Families

Plastics families
Amorphous Semi-crystalline
Crystallization of polymers
Crystallization of polymers is a process associated with partial alignment of their molecular chains. These chains fold together and form ordered regions called lamellae, which compose larger spheroidal structures named spherulites. Polymers can crystallize upon cooling from the melt, mechanical...

Ultra polymers SRP, TPI, PAI
Polyamide-imide
Polyamide-imides are thermoplastic amorphous polymers that have exceptional mechanical, thermal and chemical resistant properties. These properties put polyamide-imides at the top of the price and performance pyramid. Polyamide-imides are produced by Solvay Advanced Polymers under the trademark...

, High-temperature sulfone|HTS
PFSA, PEEK
High performance polymers PPSU, PEI, PESU, PSU
Polysulfone
Polysulfone describes a family of thermoplastic polymers. These polymers are known for their toughness and stability at high temperatures. They contain the subunit aryl-SO2-aryl, the defining feature of which is the sulfone group. Polysulfones were introduced in 1965 by Union Carbide...

 
LCP
Liquid crystal polymer
Liquid-crystal polymers are a class of aromatic polyester polymers. They are extremely unreactive and inert, and highly resistant to fire.-Background:...

, Polyarylamide>PARA, HPN, PPS, PPA
Polyphthalamide
Polyphthalamide is a thermoplastic synthetic resin of the polyamide family that is used to replace metals in high temperature automotive applications, as the housing for high temperature electrical connectors and multiple other uses. It has found a degree of favor for use in cutlery...

Other polyamides
Mid range polymers PC
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

, PPC, COC, PMMA, ABS
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a common thermoplastic. Its melting point is approximately 105 °C ....

, PVC Alloys
PEX, PVDC
Polyvinylidene chloride
Polyvinylidene chloride is a polymer derived from vinylidene chloride.-History:Ralph Wiley, a Dow Chemical lab worker, accidentally discovered polyvinylidene chloride in 1933. While cleaning laboratory glassware, he came across a vial he could not scrub clean...

, PBT
Polybutylene terephthalate
Polybutylene terephthalate is a thermoplastic engineering polymer, that is used as an insulator in the electrical and electronics industries. It is a thermoplastic crystalline polymer, and a type of polyester...

, PET
Polyethylene terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate , commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers; thermoforming applications; and engineering resins often in combination...

, POM, PA 6,6, UHMWPE
Commodity polymers PS
Polystyrene
Polystyrene ) also known as Thermocole, abbreviated following ISO Standard PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry...

, PVC
Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

 
PP
Polypropylene
Polypropylene , also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, textiles , stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes...

, HDPE, LDPE

History


The first synthetic plastic material, parkesine
Parkesine
Parkesine is the trademark for the first man-made plastic. It was patented by Alexander Parkes in 1856. In 1866 Parkes formed the Parkesine Company to mass produce the material. The company, however, failed due to poor product quality as Parkes tried to reduce costs...

, was patented by Alexander Parkes
Alexander Parkes
Alexander Parkes was a metallurgist and inventor from Birmingham, England. He created Parkesine, the first man-made plastic.-Biography:...

, In Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, UK in 1856. It was unveiled at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. The development of plastics has come from the use of natural plastic materials (e.g., chewing gum
Chewing gum
Chewing gum is a type of gum traditionally made of chicle, a natural latex product, or synthetic rubber known as polyisobutylene. For economical and quality reasons, many modern chewing gums use rubber instead of chicle...

, shellac
Shellac
Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes , which are dissolved in ethyl alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze and wood finish...

) to the use of chemically modified natural materials (e.g., rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

, nitrocellulose
Nitrocellulose
Nitrocellulose is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating cellulose through exposure to nitric acid or another powerful nitrating agent. When used as a propellant or low-order explosive, it is also known as guncotton...

, collagen
Collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

, galalite) and finally to completely synthetic molecules (e.g., bakelite, epoxy
Epoxy
Epoxy, also known as polyepoxide, is a thermosetting polymer formed from reaction of an epoxide "resin" with polyamine "hardener". Epoxy has a wide range of applications, including fiber-reinforced plastic materials and general purpose adhesives....

, polyvinyl chloride).

In 1866, Parkes formed the Parkesine Company to mass produce the material. The company, however, failed due to poor product quality as Parkes tried to reduce costs. Parkesine's successors were Xylonite, produced by Daniel Spill
Daniel Spill
Daniel Spill was born in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, England. He became a rubber and an early thermoplastics manufacturer. For over 20 years Spill had pursued the goal of making a successful business from Alexander Parkes' invention Parkesine, the first man made plastic.-Career:Although he...

 (an associate of Parkes), and Celluloid
Celluloid
Celluloid is the name of a class of compounds created from nitrocellulose and camphor, plus dyes and other agents. Generally regarded to be the first thermoplastic, it was first created as Parkesine in 1862 and as Xylonite in 1869, before being registered as Celluloid in 1870. Celluloid is...

 from John Wesley Hyatt
John Wesley Hyatt
John Wesley Hyatt was an American inventor. He is mainly known for simplifying the production of celluloid, the first industrial plastic. Hyatt, a Perkin Medal recipient, is an inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.-Biography:Hyatt was born in Starkey, New York, and began working as a...

. Parkesine was made from cellulose
Cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

 treated with nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 and a solvent
Solvent
A solvent is a liquid, solid, or gas that dissolves another solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution that is soluble in a certain volume of solvent at a specified temperature...

. The generic name of Parkesine is pyroxylin, or Celluloid
Celluloid
Celluloid is the name of a class of compounds created from nitrocellulose and camphor, plus dyes and other agents. Generally regarded to be the first thermoplastic, it was first created as Parkesine in 1862 and as Xylonite in 1869, before being registered as Celluloid in 1870. Celluloid is...

. Parkesine is often synthetic ivory. The Parkesine company ceased trading in 1868. Pictures of Parkesine are held by the Plastics Historical Society
Plastics Historical Society
The Plastics Historical Society was formed in 1986 and aims to encourage the study of all historical aspects of plastics and other polymers, including synthetic fibres, rubber and elastomers. It is an independent society, affiliated to the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and is based...

 of London. There is a plaque on the wall of the site of the Parkesine Works.

Reheatable plastic


Reheatable plastic has both characteristics of Thermoplastic
Thermoplastic
Thermoplastic, also known as a thermosoftening plastic, is a polymer that turns to a liquid when heated and freezes to a very glassy state when cooled sufficiently...

 and Thermosetting polymer. In November 2011, French researchers have designed a polymer that can be heated and reshaped many times and still strong as a thermoset. The material will not melt, so a hot air blower is sufficient to reshape.

Bakelite


The first so called plastic based on a synthetic polymer was made from phenol
Phenol
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, phenic acid, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid. The molecule consists of a phenyl , bonded to a hydroxyl group. It is produced on a large scale as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds...

 and formaldehyde
Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is an organic compound with the formula CH2O. It is the simplest aldehyde, hence its systematic name methanal.Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a characteristic pungent odor. It is an important precursor to many other chemical compounds, especially for polymers...

, with the first viable and cheap synthesis methods invented in 1907, by Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian-born American
Belgian-American
Belgian Americans are citizens of the United States who are of Belgian ancestry. 'Belgian' is not considered an ethnic term...

 living in New York state. Baekeland was looking for an insulating shellac to coat wires in electric motors and generators. He found that mixtures of phenol (C6H5OH) and formaldehyde (HCOH) formed a sticky mass when mixed together and heated, and the mass became extremely hard if allowed to cool. He continued his investigations and found that the material could be mixed with wood flour, asbestos, or slate dust to create "composite" materials with different properties. Most of these compositions were strong and fire resistant. The only problem was that the material tended to foam during synthesis, and the resulting product was of unacceptable quality.

Baekeland built pressure vessels to force out the bubbles and provide a smooth, uniform product. He publicly announced his discovery in 1909, in an American Chemical Society meeting, naming it bakelite. It was originally used for electrical and mechanical parts, finally coming into widespread use in consumer goods in the 1920s. When the Bakelite patent expired in 1930, the Catalin Corporation acquired the patent and began manufacturing Catalin
Catalin
Catalin is a brand name for a thermosetting polymer popular in the 1930s. Developed when the American Catalin Corporation took over the patents for Bakelite in 1927, Catalin is a cast phenolic, which can be worked with files, grinders and cutters and polishes to a fine sheen. Chemically, it is a...

 plastic using a different process that allowed a wider range of coloring.

Bakelite was the first true plastic. It was a purely synthetic material, not based on any material or even molecule found in nature. It was also the first thermosetting plastic. Conventional thermoplastics can be molded and then melted again, but thermoset plastics form bonds between polymers strands when cured, creating a tangled matrix that cannot be undone without destroying the plastic. Thermoset plastics are tough and temperature resistant.

Bakelite was cheap, strong, and durable. It was molded into thousands of forms, such as cases for radios, telephones and clocks, and billiard ball
Billiard ball
A billiard ball is a small, hard ball used in cue sports, such as carom billiards, pool, and snooker. The number, type, diameter, color, and pattern of the balls differ depending upon the specific game being played...

s.

Phenol-based ("Phenolic") plastics have been largely replaced by cheaper and less brittle plastics, but they are still used in applications requiring their insulating and heat-resistant properties. For example, some electronic circuit boards are made of sheets of paper or cloth impregnated with phenolic resin.

Polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride


After the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, improvements in chemical technology led to an explosion in new forms of plastics. Among the earliest examples in the wave of new plastics were polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Polystyrene is a rigid, brittle, inexpensive plastic that has been used to make plastic model
Plastic model
thumb|300px||4-year-old boy starts painting a plastic model he has assembled of the South Goodwin LightshipPlastic models, often called scale models, are models manufactured as kits which are assembled by hobbyists, and intended for static display....

 kits and similar knick-knacks. It would also be the basis for one of the most popular "foamed" plastics, under the name styrene foam or Styrofoam
Styrofoam
Styrofoam is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company for closed-cell currently made for thermal insulation and craft applications. In 1941, researchers in Dow's Chemical Physics Lab found a way to make foamed polystyrene...

. Foam plastics can be synthesized in an "open cell" form, in which the foam bubbles are interconnected, as in an absorbent sponge, and "closed cell", in which all the bubbles are distinct, like tiny balloons, as in gas-filled foam insulation and flotation devices. In the late 1950s, high impact styrene was introduced, which was not brittle. It finds much current use as the substance of toy figurines and novelties.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC, commonly called "vinyl") has side chains incorporating chlorine atoms, which form strong bonds. PVC in its normal form is stiff, strong, heat and weather resistant, and is now used for making plumbing
Plumbing
Plumbing is the system of pipes and drains installed in a building for the distribution of potable drinking water and the removal of waterborne wastes, and the skilled trade of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures in such systems. A plumber is someone who installs or repairs piping...

, gutters, house siding, enclosures for computers and other electronics gear. PVC can also be softened with chemical processing, and in this form it is now used for shrink-wrap
Shrinkwrap
Shrink wrap, also shrinkwrap or shrink film, is a material made up of polymer plastic film. When heat is applied it shrinks tightly over whatever it is covering. Heat can be applied with a hand held heat gun or the product and film can pass through a heat tunnel on a conveyor.-Composition:The...

, food packaging, and rain gear.

All PVC polymers are degraded by heat and light. When this happens, hydrogen chloride is released into the atmosphere and oxidation of the compound occurs. Because hydrogen chloride readily combines with water vapor in the air to form hydrochloric acid, polyvinyl chloride is not recommended for long-term archival storage of silver, photographic film or paper (mylar is preferable).

Nylon


The real star of the plastics industry in the 1930s was polyamide
Polyamide
A polyamide is a polymer containing monomers of amides joined by peptide bonds. They can occur both naturally and artificially, examples being proteins, such as wool and silk, and can be made artificially through step-growth polymerization or solid-phase synthesis, examples being nylons, aramids,...

 (PA), far better known by its trade name nylon. Nylon was the first purely synthetic fiber, introduced by DuPont Corporation
DuPont
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company , commonly referred to as DuPont, is an American chemical company that was founded in July 1802 as a gunpowder mill by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. DuPont was the world's third largest chemical company based on market capitalization and ninth based on revenue in 2009...

 at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

In 1927, DuPont had begun a secret development project designated Fiber66, under the direction of Harvard chemist Wallace Carothers
Wallace Carothers
Wallace Hume Carothers was an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont, credited with the invention of nylon....

 and chemistry department director Elmer Keiser Bolton
Elmer Keiser Bolton
Elmer Keiser Bolton was an American chemist and research director for DuPont, notable for his role in developing neoprene and directing the research that led to the discovery of nylon.- Personal life :...

. Carothers had been hired to perform pure research, and he worked to understand the new materials' molecular structure and physical properties. He took some of the first steps in the molecular design of the materials.

His work led to the discovery of synthetic nylon fiber, which was very strong but also very flexible. The first application was for bristles for toothbrushes. However, Du Pont's real target was silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

, particularly silk stocking
Stocking
A stocking, , is a close-fitting, variously elastic garment covering the foot and lower part of the leg. Stockings vary in color, design and transparency...

s. Carothers and his team synthesized a number of different polyamides including polyamide 6.6 and 4.6, as well as polyesters.

It took DuPont twelve years and US$27 million to refine nylon, and to synthesize and develop the industrial processes for bulk manufacture. With such a major investment, it was no surprise that Du Pont spared little expense to promote nylon after its introduction, creating a public sensation, or "nylon mania".

Nylon mania came to an abrupt stop at the end of 1941 when the USA entered World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The production capacity that had been built up to produce nylon stockings
Pantyhose
Pantyhose are sheer, close-fitting legwear, covering the wearer's body from the waist to the feet. Mostly considered to be a woman's and girl's garment, pantyhose appeared in the 1960s, and they provided a convenient alternative to stockings...

, or just nylons, for American women was taken over to manufacture vast numbers of parachutes for fliers and paratroopers. After the war ended, DuPont went back to selling nylon to the public, engaging in another promotional campaign in 1946 that resulted in an even bigger craze, triggering the so called nylon riots
Nylon riots
The nylon riots refer to a series of disturbances at American stores created by a nylon stocking shortage.Nylon was first introduced around 1939 and was rapidly in extremely high demand in the US, with up to 4 million pairs of stockings bought in one day...

.

Subsequently polyamides 6, 10, 11, and 12 have been developed based on monomers which are ring compounds; e.g. caprolactam
Caprolactam
Caprolactam is an organic compound with the formula 5CNH. This colourless solid is a lactam or a cyclic amide of caproic acid. Approximately 2 billion kilograms are produced annually...

. Nylon 66 is a material manufactured by condensation polymerization
Step-growth polymerization
Step-growth polymerization refers to a type of polymerization mechanism in which bi-functional or multifunctional monomers react to form first dimers, then trimers, longer oligomers and eventually long chain polymers. Many naturally occurring and some synthetic polymers are produced by step-growth...

.

Nylons still remain important plastics, and not just for use in fabrics. In its bulk form it is very wear resistant, particularly if oil-impregnated, and so is used to build gears, plain bearing
Plain bearing
A plain bearing, also known as a plane bearing or a friction bearing is the simplest type of bearing, comprising just a bearing surface and no rolling elements. Therefore the journal slides over the bearing surface. The simplest example of a plain bearing is a shaft rotating in a hole...

s, and because of good heat-resistance, increasingly for under-the-hood applications in cars, and other mechanical parts.

Rubber


Natural rubber is an elastomer (an elastic hydrocarbon polymer) that was originally derived from latex
Latex
Latex is the stable dispersion of polymer microparticles in an aqueous medium. Latexes may be natural or synthetic.Latex as found in nature is a milky fluid found in 10% of all flowering plants . It is a complex emulsion consisting of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins,...

, a milky colloidal suspension
Colloid
A colloid is a substance microscopically dispersed evenly throughout another substance.A colloidal system consists of two separate phases: a dispersed phase and a continuous phase . A colloidal system may be solid, liquid, or gaseous.Many familiar substances are colloids, as shown in the chart below...

 found in the sap of some plants. It is useful directly in this form (indeed, the first appearance of rubber in Europe is cloth waterproofed with unvulcanized latex from Brazil) but, later, in 1839, Charles Goodyear
Charles Goodyear
Charles Goodyear was an American inventor who developed a process to vulcanize rubber in 1839 -- a method that he perfected while living and working in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1844, and for which he received patent number 3633 from the United States Patent Office on June 15, 1844Although...

 invented vulcanized rubber; this a form of natural rubber heated with, mostly, sulfur forming cross-links between polymer chains (vulcanization
Vulcanization
Vulcanization or vulcanisation is a chemical process for converting rubber or related polymers into more durable materials via the addition of sulfur or other equivalent "curatives." These additives modify the polymer by forming crosslinks between individual polymer chains. Vulcanized material is...

), improving elasticity and durability.

Synthetic rubber


The first fully synthetic rubber was synthesized by Sergei Lebedev
Sergei Vasiljevich Lebedev
Sergei Vasiljevich Lebedev was a Russian/Soviet chemist and the inventor of the polybutadiene synthetic rubber, the first commercially viable and mass-produced type of synthetic rubber.- Biography :...

 in 1910. In World War II, supply blockades of natural rubber from South East Asia caused a boom in development of synthetic rubber, notably styrene-butadiene rubber
Styrene-butadiene
Styrene-Butadiene or Styrene-Butadiene-Rubber is a synthetic rubber copolymer consisting of styrene and butadiene. It has good abrasion resistance and good aging stability when protected by additives, and is widely used in car tires, where it may be blended with natural rubber...

. In 1941, annual production of synthetic rubber in the U.S. was only 231 tonnes which increased to 840,000 tonnes in 1945. In the space race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

 and nuclear arms race
Nuclear arms race
The nuclear arms race was a competition for supremacy in nuclear warfare between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies during the Cold War...

, Caltech researchers experimented with using synthetic rubbers for solid fuel for rockets. Ultimately, all large military rockets and missiles would use synthetic rubber based solid fuels, and they would also play a significant part in the civilian space effort.

Bioplastics



Cellulose-based plastics

Parkes developed a synthetic replacement for ivory which he marketed under the trade name
Trade name
A trade name, also known as a trading name or a business name, is the name which a business trades under for commercial purposes, although its registered, legal name, used for contracts and other formal situations, may be another....

 Parkesine, and which won a bronze medal at the 1862 World's fair
World's Fair
World's fair, World fair, Universal Exposition, and World Expo are various large public exhibitions held in different parts of the world. The first Expo was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Parkesine was made from cellulose (the major component of plant cell walls) treated with nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 as a solvent. The output of the process (commonly known as cellulose nitrate or pyroxilin) could be dissolved in alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

 and hardened into a transparent and elastic material that could be molded when heated. By incorporating pigments into the product, it could be made to resemble ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

.

Bois Durci (French for "hardened wood") is a plastic molding material based on cellulose. It was patented in Paris by François Charles Lepage in 1855. It is made from finely ground wood flour
Wood flour
Wood flour is finely pulverized wood that has a consistency fairly equal to sand or sawdust, but can vary considerably, with particles ranging in size from a fine powder to roughly the size of a grain of rice. Most wood flour manufacturers are able to create batches of wood flour that have the...

 mixed with a binder, either egg or blood albumen, or gelatine. The wood is probably either ebony or rose wood, which gives a black or brown resin. The mixture is dried and ground into a fine powder. The powder is placed in a steel mold and compressed in a powerful hydraulic press
Hydraulic press
A hydraulic is a machine using a hydraulic cylinder to generate a compressive force. It uses the hydraulic equivalenta mechanical lever, and was also known as a Bramah press after the inventor, Joseph Bramah, of England. He invented and was issued a patent on this press in 1795...

 while being heated by steam. The final product has a highly polished finish imparted by the surface of the steel mold.

High oil prices have seen a resurgence in interest in bioplastics made from renewable cellulose and starch., including:
  • Pea
    Pea
    A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking...

     starch film with trigger biodegradation properties for agricultural applications (TRIGGER).
  • Biopetroleum.


Because of the fragmentation in the market and ambiguous definitions it is difficult to describe the total market size for bioplastics, but estimates put global production capacity at 327,000 tonnes. In contrast, global consumption of all flexible packaging is estimated at around 12.3 million tonnes.

Biodegradable (compostable) plastics


Research has been done on biodegradable plastics that break down with exposure to sunlight (e.g., ultra-violet radiation), water or dampness, bacteria, enzymes, wind abrasion and some instances rodent pest or insect attack are also included as forms of biodegradation
Biodegradation
Biodegradation or biotic degradation or biotic decomposition is the chemical dissolution of materials by bacteria or other biological means...

 or environmental degradation
Environmental degradation
Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife...

. It is clear some of these modes of degradation will only work if the plastic is exposed at the surface, while other modes will only be effective if certain conditions exist in landfill or composting systems. Starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

 powder has been mixed with plastic as a filler to allow it to degrade more easily, but it still does not lead to complete breakdown of the plastic. Some researchers have actually genetically engineered
Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct human manipulation of an organism's genome using modern DNA technology. It involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic genes into the organism of interest...

 bacteria that synthesize a completely biodegradable plastic, but this material, such as Biopol, is expensive at present. The German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 chemical company BASF
BASF
BASF SE is the largest chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Germany. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik . Today, the four letters are a registered trademark and the company is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Zurich Stock...

 makes Ecoflex, a fully biodegradable polyester for food packaging applications.

Oxo-biodegradable


Oxo-biodegradable (OBD) plastic is polyolefin plastic to which has been added very small (catalytic) amounts of metal salts. As long as the plastic has access to oxygen (as in a littered state), these additives catalyze the natural degradation process to speed it up so that the OBD plastic will degrade when subject to environmental conditions. Once degraded to a small enough particle they can interact with biological processes to produce to water, carbon dioxide and biomass. The process is shortened from hundreds of years to months for degradation and thereafter biodegradation depends on the micro-organisms in the environment. Typically this process is not fast enough to meet ASTM D6400 standards for definition as compostable plastics.

Toxicity


Due to their insolubility in water and relative chemical inertness, pure plastics generally have low toxicity in their finished state, and will pass through the digestive system with no ill effect (other than mechanical damage or obstruction). However, plastics often contain a variety of toxic additives. For example, plasticizers like adipate
Adipate
Adipate is the ionized form of adipic acid.As food additives, adipates are used as acidity regulators. Examples are sodium adipate and potassium adipate .-See also:* Acidity regulator...

s and phthalates are often added to brittle plastics like polyvinyl chloride to make them pliable enough for use in food packaging, toys
Toys
Toys is a 1992 comedy film directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, LL Cool J, and introducing Jamie Foxx as Baker. The film failed at the box office at the time of its release, despite its impressive cast and lavish filmmaking. Levinson was...

 and teether
Teether
A teether is a soothing tool for infants that are going through the phase of teething.The European Commission's Scientific Committee announced that they are banning phthalate softeners in baby toys, because of toxic residue in six phthalate that were used in the manufacture of baby toys such as...

s, tubing, shower curtains and other items. Traces of these chemicals can leach out of the plastic when it comes into contact with food. Out of these concerns, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 has restricted the use of DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate)and other phthalates in some applications. Some compounds leaching from polystyrene food containers have been found to interfere with hormone functions and are suspected human carcinogens.

Moreover, while the finished plastic may be non-toxic, the monomers used in its manufacture may be toxic; and small amounts of those chemicals may remain trapped in the product. The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

's International Agency for Research on Cancer
International Agency for Research on Cancer
The International Agency for Research on Cancer is an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organisation of the United Nations....

 (IARC) has recognized the chemical used to make PVC, vinyl chloride
Vinyl chloride
Vinyl chloride is the organochloride with the formula H2C:CHCl. It is also called vinyl chloride monomer, VCM or chloroethene. This colorless compound is an important industrial chemical chiefly used to produce the polymer polyvinyl chloride . At ambient pressure and temperature, vinyl chloride...

, as a known human carcinogen
Carcinogen
A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This may be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes...

. Some polymers may also decompose into the monomers or other toxic substances when heated. In 2011, it was reported that "almost all plastic products" sampled released chemicals with estrogenic activity, although the researchers identified plastics which did not leach chemicals with estrogenic activity.

The primary building block of polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

s, bisphenol A
Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is an organic compound with two phenol functional groups. It is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, along with other applications....

 (BPA), is an estrogen
Estrogen
Estrogens , oestrogens , or œstrogens, are a group of compounds named for their importance in the estrous cycle of humans and other animals. They are the primary female sex hormones. Natural estrogens are steroid hormones, while some synthetic ones are non-steroidal...

-like endocrine disruptor
Endocrine disruptor
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine in animals, including humans. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders...

 that may leach into food. Research in Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Health Perspectives is a peer-reviewed open-access medical journal published monthly by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2009 impact factor of 6.191....

 finds that BPA leached from the lining of tin cans, dental sealant
Dental sealant
Dental sealants are a dental treatment consisting of applying a plastic material to one or more teeth, for the intended purpose of preventing dental caries or other forms of tooth decay.-Development:...

s and polycarbonate bottles can increase body weight of lab animals' offspring. A more recent animal study suggests that even low-level exposure to BPA results in insulin resistance, which can lead to inflammation and heart disease.

As of January 2010, the LA Times newspaper reports that the United States FDA is spending $30 million to investigate suspicious indications of BPA being linked to cancer.

Bis(2-ethylhexyl) adipate
Bis(2-ethylhexyl) adipate
Bis adipate or DEHA is a plasticizer. DEHA is an ester of 2-ethylhexanol and adipic acid. Its chemical formula is 22424.DEHA is sometimes called "dioctyl adipate", incorrectly. Other names include diisooctyl adipate and di adipate.-Use:DEHA is used as a functional hydraulic fluid, and a component...

, present in plastic wrap
Plastic wrap
Plastic wrap, cling film , cling wrap or food wrap, is a thin plastic film typically used for sealing food items in containers to keep them fresh over a longer period of time...

 based on PVC, is also of concern, as are the volatile organic compounds present in new car smell
New car smell
New-car smell is the common term for the odor that comes from the combination of materials found in new automobiles. Some people regard it as a pleasant and desirable smell. However, there is some question about whether the chemicals in the odour pose a health risk.- Chemical composition :Both the...

.

The European Union has a permanent ban on the use of phthalates
Phthalates
Phthalates , or phthalate esters, are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers . They are used primarily to soften polyvinyl chloride...

 in toys. In 2009, the United States government banned certain types of phthalates commonly used in plastic.

Environmental issues



Plastics are durable and degrade
Chemical decomposition
Chemical decomposition, analysis or breakdown is the separation of a chemical compound into elements or simpler compounds. It is sometimes defined as the exact opposite of a chemical synthesis. Chemical decomposition is often an undesired chemical reaction...

 very slowly; the molecular bonds that make plastic so durable make it equally resistant to natural processes of degradation. Since the 1950s, one billion tons of plastic have been discarded and may persist for hundreds or even thousands of years. In some cases, burning plastic can release toxic
Toxicity
Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage a living or non-living organisms. Toxicity can refer to the effect on a whole organism, such as an animal, bacterium, or plant, as well as the effect on a substructure of the organism, such as a cell or an organ , such as the liver...

 fumes. Burning the plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) may create dioxin. Also, the manufacturing of plastics often creates large quantities of chemical pollutants.

Prior to the ban on the use of CFCs
Chlorofluorocarbon
A chlorofluorocarbon is an organic compound that contains carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, produced as a volatile derivative of methane and ethane. A common subclass are the hydrochlorofluorocarbons , which contain hydrogen, as well. They are also commonly known by the DuPont trade name Freon...

 in extrusion of polystyrene (and general use, except in life-critical fire suppression systems; see Montreal Protocol
Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion...

), the production of polystyrene contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer
Ozone layer
The ozone layer is a layer in Earth's atmosphere which contains relatively high concentrations of ozone . This layer absorbs 97–99% of the Sun's high frequency ultraviolet light, which is potentially damaging to the life forms on Earth...

; however, non-CFCs are currently used in the extrusion process.

By 1995, plastic recycling
Plastic recycling
Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastics and reprocessing the material into useful products, sometimes completely different in form from their original state. For instance, this could mean melting down soft drink bottles and then casting them as plastic chairs and tables...

 programs were common in the United States and elsewhere. Thermoplastics can be remelted and reused, and thermoset plastics can be ground up and used as filler, though the purity of the material tends to degrade with each reuse cycle. There are methods by which plastics can be broken back down to a feedstock state.

Plastic can be converted as a fuel. Plastic is made from crude oil, so it can be broken down to liquid hydrocarbon. One kilogram of waste plastic produces a liter of hydrocarbon. Plastic wastes are used in cement plants as a fuel.

To assist recycling of disposable items, the Plastic Bottle Institute of the Society of the Plastics Industry
Society of the Plastics Industry
Founded in 1937, The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. is the trade association representing one of the largest manufacturing industries in the United States. SPIs members represent the entire plastics industry supply chain in the US, including processors, machinery and equipment manufacturers...

 devised a now-familiar scheme to mark plastic bottles by plastic type. A plastic container using this scheme is marked with a triangle of three "chasing arrows
Recycling symbol
The universal recycling symbol or in Unicode) is an internationally recognized symbol used to designate recyclable materials. It is composed of three mutually chasing arrows that form a Möbius strip ....

", which encloses a number giving the plastic type:
  1. PET (PETE), polyethylene terephthalate
    Polyethylene terephthalate
    Polyethylene terephthalate , commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers; thermoforming applications; and engineering resins often in combination...

  2. HDPE, high-density polyethylene
  3. PVC, polyvinyl chloride
    Polyvinyl chloride
    Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

  4. LDPE, low-density polyethylene,
  5. PP, polypropylene
    Polypropylene
    Polypropylene , also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, textiles , stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes...

  6. PS, polystyrene
    Polystyrene
    Polystyrene ) also known as Thermocole, abbreviated following ISO Standard PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry...

  7. Other types of plastics (see list, below)


Recycling of plastics has proven to be a difficult process. The biggest problem is that it is difficult to automate the sorting of plastic wastes, making it labor intensive
Labor intensity
Labor intensity is the relative proportion of labor used in a process. Its inverse is capital intensity....

. Typically, workers sort the plastic by looking at the resin identification code, although common containers like soda bottles can be sorted from memory. Typically, the caps for PETE bottles are made from a different kind of plastic which is not recyclable, which presents additional problems to the automated sorting process. Other recyclable materials such as metals are easier to process mechanically. However, new processes of mechanical sorting are being developed to increase capacity and efficiency of plastic recycling.

While containers are usually made from a single type and color of plastic, making them relatively easy to be sorted, a consumer product like a cellular phone may have many small parts consisting of over a dozen different types and colors of plastics. In such cases, the resources it would take to separate the plastics far exceed their value and the item is discarded. However, developments are taking place in the field of active disassembly
Active Disassembly
Active Disassembly is a developing technology which is associated with the term Active Disassembly using Smart Materials - Outline :...

, which may result in more consumer product components being re-used or recycled. Recycling certain types of plastics can be unprofitable, as well. For example, polystyrene is rarely recycled because it is usually not cost effective. These unrecycled wastes are typically disposed of in landfills, incinerated
Incineration
Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and...

 or used to produce electricity at waste-to-energy plants.

Perhaps the biggest environmental threat from plastic comes from nurdles which are the raw material from which
all plastics are made. They are tiny pre-plastic pellets that kill large numbers of fish and birds that mistake them for food.

Price, environment, and the future


The biggest threat to the conventional plastics industry is most likely to be environmental concerns, including the release of toxic pollutants, greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

, litter
Litter
Litter consists of waste products such as containers, papers, wrappers or faeces which have been disposed of without consent. Litter can also be used as a verb...

, biodegradable and non-biodegradable landfill
Landfill
A landfill site , is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment...

 impact as a result of the production and disposal of petroleum and petroleum-based plastics. Of particular concern has been the recent accumulation of enormous quantities of plastic trash in ocean gyres
Gyre
A gyre in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis Effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, which determine the circulation patterns from the wind curl...

 such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N...

.

For decades one of the great appeals of plastics has been their low price. Yet in recent years the cost of plastics has been rising dramatically. A major cause is the sharply rising cost of petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

, the raw material that is chemically altered to form commercial plastics.

With some observers suggesting that future oil reserves are uncertain
Peak oil
Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is based on the observed production rates of individual oil wells, projected reserves and the combined production rate of a field...

, the price of petroleum
Price of petroleum
The price of petroleum as quoted in news generally refers to the spot price per barrel of either WTI/light crude as traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange for delivery at Cushing, Oklahoma, or of Brent as traded on the Intercontinental Exchange for delivery at Sullom Voe.The price...

 may increase further. Therefore, alternatives are being sought. Oil shale
Oil shale
Oil shale, an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock, contains significant amounts of kerogen from which liquid hydrocarbons called shale oil can be produced...

 and tar oil are alternatives for plastic production but are expensive. Scientists are seeking cheaper and better alternatives to petroleum-based plastics, and many candidates are in laboratories all over the world. One promising alternative may be fructose.

Common plastics and uses



  • Polyester
    Polyester
    Polyester is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate...

     (PES) – Fiber
    Fiber
    Fiber is a class of materials that are continuous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces, similar to lengths of thread.They are very important in the biology of both plants and animals, for holding tissues together....

    s, textile
    Textile
    A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

    s.
  • Polyethylene terephthalate
    Polyethylene terephthalate
    Polyethylene terephthalate , commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers; thermoforming applications; and engineering resins often in combination...

     (PET) – Carbonated drinks bottles, peanut butter jars, plastic film, microwavable packaging.
  • Polyethylene
    Polyethylene
    Polyethylene or polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons...

     (PE) – Wide range of inexpensive uses including supermarket bags, plastic bottles.
  • High-density polyethylene  (HDPE) – Detergent bottles and milk jugs.
  • Polyvinyl chloride
    Polyvinyl chloride
    Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

     (PVC) – Plumbing pipes and guttering, shower curtains, window frames, flooring.
  • Polyvinylidene chloride
    Polyvinylidene chloride
    Polyvinylidene chloride is a polymer derived from vinylidene chloride.-History:Ralph Wiley, a Dow Chemical lab worker, accidentally discovered polyvinylidene chloride in 1933. While cleaning laboratory glassware, he came across a vial he could not scrub clean...

     (PVDC) (Saran
    Saran (plastic)
    Saran is the trade name for a number of polymers made from vinylidene chloride , along with other monomers. The main advantage of Saran film is its very low permeability to water vapor, flavor and aroma molecules, and oxygen compared with other plastics...

    ) – Food packaging.
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) – Outdoor furniture
    Garden furniture
    Garden furniture, also called patio furniture and outdoor furniture, is a type of furniture specifically designed for outdoor use. It is typically made of weather resistant materials...

    , siding, floor tiles, shower curtains, clamshell packaging.
  • Polypropylene
    Polypropylene
    Polypropylene , also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, textiles , stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes...

     (PP) – Bottle caps, drinking straws, yogurt containers, appliances, car fenders (bumpers), plastic pressure pipe systems.
  • Polystyrene
    Polystyrene
    Polystyrene ) also known as Thermocole, abbreviated following ISO Standard PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry...

     (PS) – Packaging foam/"peanuts", food containers, plastic tableware, disposable cups, plates, cutlery, CD and cassette boxes.
  • High impact polystyrene (HIPS) -: Refrigerator liners, food packaging, vending cups.
  • Polyamides (PA) (Nylon
    Nylon
    Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

    s) – Fibers, toothbrush bristles, fishing line
    Fishing line
    A fishing line is a cord used or made for angling. Important parameters of a fishing line are its length, material, and weight...

    , under-the-hood car engine moldings.
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
    Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
    Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a common thermoplastic. Its melting point is approximately 105 °C ....

     (ABS) – Electronic equipment cases (e.g., computer monitors, printers, keyboards), drainage pipe.
  • Polycarbonate
    Polycarbonate
    PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

     (PC) – Compact disc
    Compact Disc
    The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

    s, eyeglasses, riot shields, security windows, traffic lights, lenses.
  • Polycarbonate/Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (PC/ABS) – A blend of PC and ABS that creates a stronger plastic. Used in car interior and exterior parts, and mobile phone bodies.
  • Polyurethanes (PU) – Cushioning foams, thermal insulation foams, surface coatings, printing rollers (Currently 6th or 7th most commonly used plastic material, for instance the most commonly used plastic found in cars).

Special purpose plastics

  • Melamine formaldehyde
    Melamine resin
    Melamine resin or melamine formaldehyde is a hard, thermosetting plastic material made from melamine and formaldehyde by polymerization. In its butylated form, it is dissolved in n-butanol and xylene. It is then used to cross-link with alkyd, epoxy, acrylic and polyester resins, used in surface...

     (MF) – One of the aminoplasts, and used as a multi-colorable alternative to phenolics, for instance in moldings (e.g., break-resistance alternatives to ceramic cups, plates and bowls for children) and the decorated top surface layer of the paper laminates (e.g., Formica).
  • Plastarch material
    Plastarch material
    Plastarch Material is a biodegradable, thermoplastic resin. It is composed of starch combined with several other biodegradable materials. The starch is modified in order to obtain heat-resistant properties, making PSM one of few bioplastics capable of withstanding high temperatures...

     – Biodegradable and heat resistant, thermoplastic composed of modified corn starch
    Modified starch
    Modified starch, also called starch derivatives, are prepared by physically, enzymatically, or chemically treating native starch, thereby changing the properties of the starch. Modified starches are used in practically all starch applications, such as in food products as a thickening agent,...

    .
  • Phenolics (PF) or (phenol formaldehydes) – High modulus
    Young's modulus
    Young's modulus is a measure of the stiffness of an elastic material and is a quantity used to characterize materials. It is defined as the ratio of the uniaxial stress over the uniaxial strain in the range of stress in which Hooke's Law holds. In solid mechanics, the slope of the stress-strain...

    , relatively heat resistant, and excellent fire resistant polymer. Used for insulating parts in electrical fixtures, paper laminated products (e.g., Formica
    Formica (plastic)
    Formica is a brand of composite materials manufactured by the Formica Corporation now based in Newcastle, Tyne & Wear, a division of the New Zealand company Fletcher Building. In common use, the term refers to the company's classic product, a heat-resistant, wipe-clean, plastic laminate of paper or...

    ), thermally insulation foams. It is a thermosetting plastic, with the familiar trade name Bakelite, that can be molded by heat and pressure when mixed with a filler-like wood flour or can be cast in its unfilled liquid form or cast as foam (e.g., Oasis). Problems include the probability of moldings naturally being dark colors (red, green, brown), and as thermoset it is difficult to recycle.
  • Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) – Strong, chemical- and heat-resistant thermoplastic, biocompatibility
    Biocompatibility
    Biocompatibility is related to the behavior of biomaterials in various contexts. The term may refer to specific properties of a material without specifying where or how the material is used , or to more empirical clinical success of a whole device in...

     allows for use in medical implant
    Implant (medicine)
    An implant is a medical device manufactured to replace a missing biological structure, support a damaged biological structure, or enhance an existing biological structure. Medical implants are man-made devices, in contrast to a transplant, which is a transplanted biomedical tissue...

     applications, aerospace moldings. One of the most expensive commercial polymers.
  • Polyetherimide (PEI) (Ultem) – A high temperature, chemically stable polymer that does not crystallize.
  • Polylactic acid
    Polylactic acid
    Poly or polylactide is a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch , tapioca products or sugarcanes...

     (PLA) – A biodegradable, thermoplastic found converted into a variety of aliphatic polyesters derived from lactic acid
    Lactic acid
    Lactic acid, also known as milk acid, is a chemical compound that plays a role in various biochemical processes and was first isolated in 1780 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Lactic acid is a carboxylic acid with the chemical formula C3H6O3...

     which in turn can be made by fermentation of various agricultural products such as corn starch
    Cornstarch
    Corn starch, cornstarch, cornflour or maize starch is the starch of the corn grain obtained from the endosperm of the corn kernel.-History:...

    , once made from dairy products.
  • Polymethyl methacrylate
    Acrylic glass
    Poly is a transparent thermoplastic, often used as a light or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. It is sometimes called acrylic glass. Chemically, it is the synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate...

     (PMMA) – Contact lenses, glazing (best known in this form by its various trade names around the world; e.g., Perspex, Oroglas, Plexiglas), aglets, fluorescent light diffusers, rear light covers for vehicles. It forms the basis of artistic and commercial acrylic paints when suspended in water with the use of other agents.
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
    Polytetrafluoroethylene
    Polytetrafluoroethylene is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that finds numerous applications. PTFE is most well known by the DuPont brand name Teflon....

     (PTFE) – Heat-resistant, low-friction coatings, used in things like non-stick surfaces for frying pans, plumber's tape and water slides. It is more commonly known as Teflon.
  • Urea-formaldehyde
    Urea-formaldehyde
    Urea-formaldehyde, also known as urea-methanal, named so for its common synthesis pathway and overall structure, is a non-transparent thermosetting resin or plastic, made from urea and formaldehyde heated in the presence of a mild base such as ammonia or pyridine...

     (UF) – One of the aminoplasts and used as a multi-colorable alternative to phenolics. Used as a wood adhesive (for plywood, chipboard, hardboard) and electrical switch housings.

Material properties of some thermoplastics

Properties of some thermoplastic materials
name SymbolDensity
[g/cm3]
Tensile strength
[MPa]
Flexural strength
[MPa]
Elastic modulus
[GPa]
Elongation at rupture
[%]
Thermal stability
[°C]
Expansion at 20°C
[10−6/°C]
High Density Polyethylene
Polyethylene
Polyethylene or polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons...

HDPE 0.95 31 40 1.86 100 120 126
Low Density Polyethylene
Polyethylene
Polyethylene or polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons...

LDPE 0.92 17 14 0.29 500 90 160
Polyvinyl Chloride
Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

PVC 1.44 47 91 3.32 60 80 75
Polypropylene
Polypropylene
Polypropylene , also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, textiles , stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes...

PP 0.91 37 49 1.36 350 150 90
Polyethylene terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate , commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers; thermoforming applications; and engineering resins often in combination...

PET 1.35 61 105 1.35 170 120 70
Polymethylmethacrylate PMMA 1.19 61 103 2.77 4 100 65
Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

PC 1.2 68 95 2.3 130 120 66
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a common thermoplastic. Its melting point is approximately 105 °C ....

ABS 1.05 45 70 2.45 33 70 90
Polyamide
Polyamide
A polyamide is a polymer containing monomers of amides joined by peptide bonds. They can occur both naturally and artificially, examples being proteins, such as wool and silk, and can be made artificially through step-growth polymerization or solid-phase synthesis, examples being nylons, aramids,...

Nylon 6 1.13 60 91 2.95 60 110 66
Polyimide
Polyimide
Polyimide is a polymer of imide monomers. The structure of imide is as shown. Polyimides have been in mass production since 1955...

PI 1.38 96 143 3.1 7 380 43
Polysulfone
Polysulfone
Polysulfone describes a family of thermoplastic polymers. These polymers are known for their toughness and stability at high temperatures. They contain the subunit aryl-SO2-aryl, the defining feature of which is the sulfone group. Polysulfones were introduced in 1965 by Union Carbide...

PSF 1.25 68 115 2.61 75 160 56
Polyamide-imide
Polyamide-imide
Polyamide-imides are thermoplastic amorphous polymers that have exceptional mechanical, thermal and chemical resistant properties. These properties put polyamide-imides at the top of the price and performance pyramid. Polyamide-imides are produced by Solvay Advanced Polymers under the trademark...

, electrical grade
PAI 1.41 138 193 4.1 12 260 30
Polyamide-imide
Polyamide-imide
Polyamide-imides are thermoplastic amorphous polymers that have exceptional mechanical, thermal and chemical resistant properties. These properties put polyamide-imides at the top of the price and performance pyramid. Polyamide-imides are produced by Solvay Advanced Polymers under the trademark...

, bearing grade
PAI 1.46 103 159 5.5 6 260 25
Polytetrafluoroethylene
Polytetrafluoroethylene
Polytetrafluoroethylene is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that finds numerous applications. PTFE is most well known by the DuPont brand name Teflon....

PTFE 2.17 24 33 0.49 300 260 95
Polyetherimide PEI 1.27 105 151 2.9 60 210 31
Polyether ether ketone PEEK
PEEK
Polyether ether ketone is a colourless organic polymer thermoplastic used in engineering applications.-Synthesis:PEEK polymers are obtained by step-growth polymerization by the dialkylation of bisphenolate salts. Typical is the reaction of 4,4'-difluorobenzophenone with the disodium salt of...

1.32 100 3.6 50 343
polyaryletherketone
Polyaryletherketone
Polyaryletherketone is a family of semi-crystalline thermoplastics with high-temperature stability and high mechanical strength.-Properties:...

 (strong)
PEAK 1.46 136 213 12.4 2.1 267
polyaryletherketone
Polyaryletherketone
Polyaryletherketone is a family of semi-crystalline thermoplastics with high-temperature stability and high mechanical strength.-Properties:...

 (tought)
PEAK 1.29 87 124 3 40 190
Self-reinforced polyphenylene SRP 1.19 152 234 5.52 10 151
Polyamide-imide
Polyamide-imide
Polyamide-imides are thermoplastic amorphous polymers that have exceptional mechanical, thermal and chemical resistant properties. These properties put polyamide-imides at the top of the price and performance pyramid. Polyamide-imides are produced by Solvay Advanced Polymers under the trademark...

PAI 1.42 152 241 4.9 15 278

NOTE: Bulk properties of pure cast or hot formed materials. Properties could change
considerably by mechanical threatment and cold forming. Fiber and foils are not considered.

See also


  • List Of Plastics, Their Chemical Codes, Uses And Applications
  • Conductive polymer
    Conductive polymer
    Conductive polymers or, more precisely, intrinsically conducting polymers are organic polymers that conduct electricity. Such compounds may have metallic conductivity or can be semiconductors. The biggest advantage of conductive polymers is their processability, mainly by dispersion. Conductive...

  • Corn construction
    Corn construction
    Corn construction refers to the use of corn in construction.The tassel, leaf, silk, cob in husks, and the stalk are the parts of corn.According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, "corn can be made into fuel, abrasives, solvents, charcoal, animal feed, bedding for animals, insulation,...

  • Molding (process)
    Molding (process)
    Molding or moulding is the process of manufacturing by shaping pliable raw material using a rigid frame or model called a pattern....

    • Flexible mold
      Flexible mold
      A mold is a hollow shape which exactly encloses the shape of a desired object. The object is usually created by pouring a liquid into the mold and allowing it to solidify: typical liquids include molten metal or plastic, plaster of Paris, epoxy resin....

    • Injection molding
      Injection molding
      Injection molding is a manufacturing process for producing parts from both thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic materials. Material is fed into a heated barrel, mixed, and forced into a mold cavity where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the cavity...

  • Film
    Film
    A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

    s
  • Light activated resin
    Light activated resin
    Light-activated resins are one-part translucent polymers that cure and quickly harden when exposed to specific light spectrums. The required wavelength for cure is specific to the resin chemistry....

  • Nurdle
    Nurdle
    Plastic particles are an increasing cause of water pollution. The particles include nurdles, microbeads from cosmetics products and the breakdown products of plastic litter. Nurdles are pre-production plastic resin pellet typically under in diameter found outside of the typical plastics...

  • Organic light emitting diode
  • Plastics engineering
    Plastics engineering
    Plastics engineering encompasses the processing, design, development, and manufacture of plastics products. A plastic is a polymeric material that is in a semi-liquid state, having the property of plasticity and exhibiting flow. The nature of plastic materials poses unique challenges to an engineer...

  • Plastics extrusion
    Plastics extrusion
    Plastics extrusion is a high volume manufacturing process in which raw plastic material is melted and formed into a continuous profile. Extrusion produces items such as pipe/tubing, weather stripping, fence, deck railing, window frames, adhesive tape and wire insulation.-Process:In the extrusion of...

  • Plastic recycling
    Plastic recycling
    Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastics and reprocessing the material into useful products, sometimes completely different in form from their original state. For instance, this could mean melting down soft drink bottles and then casting them as plastic chairs and tables...

  • Plasticulture
    Plasticulture
    The term plasticulture refers to the practice of using plastic materials in agricultural applications.The plastic materials themselves are often and broadly referred to as "ag plastics." Plasticulture ag plastics include soil fumigation film, irrigation drip tape/tubing, nursery pots and silage...

  • Progressive bag alliance
    Progressive bag alliance
    The Progressive Bag Alliance was founded in 2005 and is a group of American plastic bag manufacturers who advocate recycling plastic shopping bags as an alternative to banning the bags. In 2007 they became the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council...

  • Roll-to-roll processing
    Roll-to-roll processing
    In the field of electronic devices, Roll-to-roll processing, also known as web processing, reel-to-reel processing or R2R, is the process of creating electronic devices on a roll of flexible plastic or metal foil...

  • Self-healing plastic
  • Thermoforming
    Thermoforming
    Thermoforming is a manufacturing process where a plastic sheet is heated to a pliable forming temperature, formed to a specific shape in a mold, and trimmed to create a usable product...

  • Timeline of materials technology
    Timeline of materials technology
    Major innovations in materials technology-BC:* 29,000–25,000 BC – First pottery appears*3rd millennium BC – Copper metallurgy is invented and copper is used for ornamentation*2nd millennium BC – Bronze is used for weapons and armour...



External links