Thermoplastics encompass all of those plastic materials that soften and may even return to a liquid state when heated but solidify and become rigid when cooled. The popularity of these plastics may be attributed to the fact that they may be re-heated and remolded any number of times. Secondary operations, therefore, may easily redefine stock shapes and recycling is also accomplished with ease.
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Applications of Thermoplastics
Thermoplastics are highly versatile and used in a number of industrial, commercial, and residential settings.
Virtually every modern industry make use of thermoplastics, including:
The most used plastics, such as polyethylene, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polypropylene, and PVC, are all examples of thermoplastics.
Thermoplastics are commonly used to make these products:
- Car Interiors
- Airplane Panels
- Artificial Knees
- Plastic Bags and Containers
- Ceiling Tiles
Manufacturing Process of Thermoplastics
Common manufacturing methods include injection molding, casting, extrusion, pultrusion, machining, welding, and grinding. Stock shapes, such as rods, sheets, films, pipes, and tubes, are readily available for secondary operations. Raw materials are also provided in plastic resin, liquid, powder, and gel form.
Types of Thermoplastics
The majority of thermoplastics are comprised of polymeric resins. These consist of long chains of several smaller monomers held together by covalent bonds. The two main types of thermoplastics are addition polymers and condensation polymers. Plastics in the additional polymers category are those which form covalent bonds without the loss of atoms or molecules in the reaction. Condensation polymers on the other hand always lose a molecule, usually water, during bonding.
Within these groupings the materials can be broken down into monomers, intermediates, binders, base polymers, elastomers, and rubber materials based on their chemical composition and bond formation.
Thermoplastics may be further divided by their specific properties. In addition to the polymerized materials, thermoplastic manufacturers can include additives such as powders, fibers, plasticizers, and ceramics to improve or alter the features of a plastic material. These play a significant role in the processing and fabrication of thermoplastics.
Points to Consider When Purchasing Thermoplastics
Each with a different crystalline structure and density, thermoplastics offer a broad array of properties. It is important to understand the parameters of a given plastic with regards to the final product or use. Additives, manufacturing, and raw material supply are all important factors in selecting the right thermoplastic for a specific application. Further considerations include physical, mechanical, electrical and optical specifications as well as melting point, dimensions and flexibility.