Discover the kinds of plastic out there. Have you ever realized how you would live your life without plastics? Well, that would be something really difficult. Plastics are used everywhere around us from doll parts to car parts, from grocery to shopping, from offices to schools. In every field, humans are highly depended on plastics and their various applications.
From the fundamental point of view, a plastic is made up of polymers which are organic molecules of very high molecular masses. They can be synthetic or semi-synthetic. Plastics can be mainly categorized into two main subdivisions:
Thermosetting plastics- This kind of plastic when heated and then allowed to cool, hardens and does not acquire its original shape. They are hard as well as durable. They are mostly used for automobile and aircraft parts and as well as to make tires for their high durable nature.
Thermoplastics- This kind of plastic can be molded again and again on heating. They do not undergo any change in their chemical composition. Examples of thermoplastics are polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride.
Let us know more about the different kinds of plastics:
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) – This kind of plastic can be made by condensing ethylene glycol with terepthalic acid. It can be drawn into thin and long fibers. PET is used in soft drink, water, beer bottles and detergent containers. The leaching of antimony trioxide causes a lot of problems in women and young children but on the whole, PET is a relatively safe plastic.
Polystyrene (PS) – A large number of styrene molecules get combined to form the polystyrene molecule. This kind of plastic is a major component of Styrofoam cups. It is resistant to hard and heavy impacts and thus, can be used for making furniture and utensils, egg cartons and disposable containers.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – This kind of plastic is formed by the combination of vinyl chloride molecules. Due to its durable nature, it is highly used for to make drainage pipes. It is cheaper and corrodes less than metal pipes. Considered as one of the most hazardous products, this kind of plastic is widely used in toys, packaging, bottles, shower curtains. This is one of the most useful kind of plastic.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) – It is made by the combination of tetrafluoroethylene molecules. This is a stable product. Its heat resistant feature enables it to be used in the manufacture of utensils like frying pans and non-stick cookware. It has a nearly frictionless surface.
Polyethylene, LDPE and HDPE- This is the most common kind of plastic made by the combination of ethylene molecules. It is of two types: Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE). LDPE has loosely organized polymer strands. Its soft and flexible nature makes it one of the widely used plastics. It is used in grocery shops, for making plastic bags and garbage bags, bottles, insulate electrical wires. On the other hand, HDPE has more denser and organized structures. The polymer layers are not so loosely packed as in LDPE and so has a higher melting point. It is used in making shampoo bottles, bleach, detergents and lining cereal boxes.