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The Science of Plastics

The Science of Plastics

We see plastics being used for a large variety of things daily. Have you ever wondered how those plastics came to be? They are the product of engineering raw materials and energy through chemistry. Even though the basic construction is easy to understand, plastics are actually high-tech and advanced materials.

To make plastics, chemists begin with many different elements derived from natural resources. This list includes but is not limited to: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and many more elements on the periodic table. Chemists combine different atoms to create molecules. When making plastics, the molecules used are called monomers. These monomers are combined by chemical bonds and become polymers, otherwise known as plastics.

There are a few different types of plastics and they behave a bit differently. When monomers join and line up like a strand of pearls, it is considered a thermoplastic. Thermoplastics act similar to an ice cube – it melts under heat and solidifies after it cools. When monomers join in a three-dimensional manner, they called thermosets. Once a thermoset “cures” it cannot return to its original liquid and gooey state.

Chemists area always finding new ways to create new plastics. Molecules can always be combined in new ways to create the kind of plastic we need (sticky, slippery, lightweight, soft, hard, foamy or even stretchy). The fact that plastics are so versatile is exactly why they are used everyday for so many different things. Contact Plastic Service Centers today for your plastic distribution needs. (586) 307-3900