Plastics are often referred to by the acronyms for their chemical formulas: The properties of plastics depend on the chemical composition of the subunits, the arrangement of these subunits, and the processing method. While plastics may be made from just about any organic polymer, most industrial plastic is made from petrochemicals. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. One category is plastics that are made up of polymers having only aliphatic (linear) carbon atoms in their backbone chains. For a fuller understanding of the materials from which plastics are made, see chemistry of industrial polymers. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a popular thermoplastic that's odorless, solid, brittle, and generally white in color. Another member of the specialty resins is thermoplastic elastomers, polymers that have the elastic properties of rubber yet can be molded repeatedly upon heating. All the commodity plastics listed above fall into this category. The first completely synthetic plastic was, The word "plastic" comes from the Greek word. Homopolymers and copolymers may be either straight chains or branched chains. Plastic resins are also used in a variety of container and packaging products, such as PET beverage bottles, HDPE bottles for milk and water, and a wide variety of other resin types used in other plastic containers, bags, sacks, wraps and lids. The polymer used to make plastic is almost always mixed with additives, including colorants, plasticizers, stabilizers, fillers, and reinforcements. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) HDPE plastic is the stiff plastic used to make milk jugs, detergent … In other words, while other elements might be present, plastics always include carbon and hydrogen. It is important to note that for each polymer type listed in the table there can be many subtypes, since any of a dozen industrial producers of any polymer can offer 20 or 30 different variations for use in specific applications. However, bags and wrappers, like those that come around paper towels, can be returned to the grocery store for recycling. This is called "creep.". Updates? Most of the engineering plastics listed above are composed of heterochain polymers. Plastic is a synthetic organic polymer made from petroleum with properties ideally suited for a wide variety of applications, including packaging, building and construction, household and sports equipment, vehicles, electronics and agriculture. This web page is a brief summary of plastic … Plastic is any synthetic or semisynthetic organic polymer. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or V) Polyvinyl chloride is designated a resin identification code of 3.It is … Often plastics. Nearly all plastics display elongation when they are stressed that is not recovered after the stress is removed. Here's a look at what plastic is and how it is formed. Most plastics are strong, long-lasting, and lightweight. The production of plastics begins with the distillation of crude oil in an oil refinery. Plastics also can be divided into two distinct categories on the basis of their chemical composition. Different monomers link to form copolymers. They are corrosion resistant to many substances which attack other materials, making them durable and suitable for use in harsh environments. 4. In other words, while other elements might be present, plastics always include carbon and hydrogen. Thus, polyethylene terephthalate and polyvinyl chloride are commonly referred to as PET and PVC, while foamed polystyrene and polymethyl methacrylate are known by their trademarked names, Styrofoam and Plexiglas (or Perspex). Among this group are the so-called engineering plastics, or engineering resins, which are plastics that can compete with die-cast metals in plumbing, hardware, and automotive applications. Simply glue the joints using a primer and liquid cement. Compact discs are made from tough, highly transparent polycarbonate plastic. The majority of plastic films are made from polyethylene resin and are readily recyclable if the material is clean and dry. Many of the chemical names of the polymers employed as plastics have become familiar to consumers, although some are better known by their abbreviations or trade names. However, new technologies are being developed to make plastic from biological substances like corn oil. Plastics, also called polymers, are produce… Can you filter your way through our chemistry quiz? This property of plasticity, often found in combination with other special properties such as low density, low electrical conductivity, transparency, and toughness, allows plastics to be made into a great variety of products. If identical monomers are joined, it forms a homopolymer. More specifically, they are defined as either thermoplastic resins or thermosetting resins. The Agency uses this information to measure the success of materials management programs across the country and to characterize the national waste stream. These include tough and lightweight beverage bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), flexible garden hoses made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), insulating food containers made of foamed polystyrene, and shatterproof windows made of polymethyl methacrylate. Professor of Chemical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Some are trans… Plastic is a material made to last forever, yet 33 percent of all plastic - water bottles, bags and straws - are used just once and thrown away. In this article a brief review of the essential properties of plastics is provided, followed by a more detailed description of their processing into useful products and subsequent recycling. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. milk bottles, wire and cable insulation, toys, packaging film, grocery bags, agricultural mulch, appliance housings, helmets, pipe fittings, pipe, conduit, home siding, window frames, impact-resistant windows, skylights, canopies, self-lubricated bearings, nonstick cookware, compact discs, safety glasses, sporting goods, machine parts, appliances, electrical equipment, laminated circuit boards, flooring, aircraft parts, flexible and rigid foams for upholstery, insulation. Have you ever wondered about the chemical composition of plastic or how it is made? Plastic, polymeric material that has the capability of being molded or shaped, usually by the application of heat and pressure. However, many manufacturers put the code on plastic films too. any of a group of synthetic or natural organic materials that may be shaped when soft and then hardened, including many types of resins, resinoids, polymers, cellulose derivatives, casein materials, and proteins: used in place of other materials, as glass, wood, and metals, in construction and decoration, for making many articles, as coatings, and, drawn into filaments, for weaving. Specialty resins are plastics whose properties are tailored to specific applications and that are produced at low volume and higher cost. Plastic, polymeric material that has the capability of being molded or shaped, usually by the application of heat and pressure. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics.” The composition, structure, and properties of plastics, Physical states and molecular morphologies, The processing and fabrication of plastics, https://www.britannica.com/science/plastic, Science History Institute - The History and Future of Plastics, plastic - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), plastics - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). As the plastics recycling infrastructure develops and viable new plastics markets emerge, the Ecology Center will evaluate the collection of other plastics, based on … Clear plastic is one of the most common materials used in manufacturing. Flow plasticity theories are characterized by the assumption that a flow rule exists that can be used to determine the amount of plastic deformation in the material.. Acrylic is a transparent plastic material with outstanding strength, stiffness, and optical clarity.Acrylic sheet is easy to fabricate, bonds well with adhesives and solvents, and is easy to thermoform. See our Sustainable Materials Management web area for relevant information and our S… Most homes since mid-1970 have plastic pipes and fittings because it’s inexpensive and easy to use. Plastic is any synthetic or semisynthetic organic polymer. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Plastics are typically turned into only one other product, which must be landfilled at the end of its life. Plastic bags — like those used for bread, newspapers and as cereal box liners, as well as sandwich bags, dry cleaning bags and grocery bags — create similar problems for recycling machinery as thin plastic film. A plastic is a kind of material that is made by people and can be formed into almost any shape. While plastics may be made from just about any organic polymer, most industrial plastic is made from petrochemicals. "Plastic Love" is a 1984 J-pop song performed by Japanese singer/songwriter Mariya Takeuchi (竹内 まりや). Plastic: Plastic pipe comes as either ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) or PVC (polyvinyl-chloride). HDPE (high density polyethylene) is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially when it comes to packaging. Synonym Discussion of plastic. Author of. PVC is most commonly used in plumbing and drainage applications, although it's also sold in the form of pellets or as resin in its powder form. (The term resin dates from the early years of the plastics industry; it originally referred to naturally occurring amorphous solids such as shellac and rosin.) The name "plastic" refers to the property of plasticity, the ability to deform without breaking. The term plastics includes materials composed of various elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur. Plastics typically have high molecular weight, meaning each molecule can have thousands of atoms bound together. Use your favorite credit card to pay for virtually any expense. They resist damage by water, heat, chemicals, and electricity. The structure of polypropylene can serve as an example; here attached to every other carbon atom is a pendant methyl group (CH3): The other category of plastics is made up of heterochain polymers. Thermosetting polymers, also known as thermosets, solidify into a permanent shape. Plastic polymers consist of chains of linked subunits called monomers. Plastic Wood All Purpose and Plastic Wood-X can be used for both interior and exterior wood repairs. Omissions? Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Nontoxic polymers may also degrade into chemicals when they are heated. Plastic Bags (11.18%) The intrinsic evil of plastic bags is largely known by now, as reusables have … Trash left along the levee instead of being placed in the trashcans nearby is another example. Make sure to paint or coat exterior wood repairs for long-term durability. All plastics are polymers but not all polymers are plastic. Among the top 10 kinds of trash picked up during the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup were food wrappers, beverage bottles, grocery bags, straws, and take out containers, all made of plastic. 5. It is important to note, however, that there are all kinds of different clear plastics and each type has its advantages. The relatively low density of most plastics gives plastic products the advantages of light weight. Thermoplastics typically have a molecular weight between 20,000 to 500,000 amu (atomic mass unit). From the elements of the periodic table to the processes that create everyday objects—these are just a few of the things that the science of chemistry can teach us. It's currently ranked as the third most widely used plastic in the world (behind polyethylene and polypropylene). Plastic soft-drink bottles are commonly made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Some thermoplastics are amorphous, while some have a partially crystalline structure. Examples of toxic additives include phthalates. Whether you need to repair a crack or join pieces of plastic together, welding is the solution. Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Pure plastics are generally insoluble in water and nontoxic. Flow plasticity is a solid mechanics theory that is used to describe the plastic behavior of materials. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Check the container or its label to confirm that it can be used in the dishwasher or freezer, and follow directions (e.g., place it on the top rack of the dishwasher if recommended). Thermoplastics, on the other hand, can be heated and remolded over and over again. Everything You Need to Know About Plastics, Plastics & Polymers Science Fair Project Ideas, A Brief History of the Invention of Plastics, Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. Plastics are extremely versatile materials and are ideal for a wide range of consumer and industrial applications. These compounds contain atoms such as oxygen, nitrogen, or sulfur in their backbone chains, in addition to carbon. Crude oil is a complex mixture of thousands of compounds and needs to be processed before it can be used. Our KC Pro plastic was developed for the demanding needs of 12 time World Disc Golf Champion Ken Climo.This blend is also used for 4 time World Disc Golf Champion Paul McBeth.This plastic is the favorite putter and midrange plastic of many pros who would also like to be world champions. Apply masking tape around damage before filling to keep a clean surface around the repair and limit sanding afterwards. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Plastics are usually poor conductors of heat and electricity. Plastic food containers in the dishwasher or freezer: Many plastic food containers offer the added convenience of safely going from freezer to microwave to dishwasher. Free up cash flow, tap early pay discounts and earn more rewards. Thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers are the two types of plastic. In addition, plastics can be made in many colors. Our oceans are now awash in at least 150 million tons of plastic, an amount that researchers say will soon surpass the weight of all the fish in … Most automobile interiors today are made largely of plastic parts. These Facts and Figures are current through calendar year 2015. Commodity resins are plastics that are produced at high volume and low cost for the most common disposable items and durable goods. The manufactured or synthetic plastics are often designed to mimic the properties of natural materials. Plastics tend to be durable, with a slow rate of degradation. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Approximately a third of the plastic that is produced is used to make packaging. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. Plastic definition is - a plastic substance; specifically : any of numerous organic synthetic or processed materials that are mostly thermoplastic or thermosetting polymers of high molecular weight and that can be made into objects, films, or filaments. Naturally occurring materials, such as wood, horn and rosin, are also composed of molecules of high molecular weight. Plastiq is bill payment with benefits. Coffee cup lids. KC Pro. Important engineering plastics, less familiar to consumers than the commodity plastics listed above, are polyacetal, polyamide (particularly those known by the trade name nylon), polytetrafluoroethylene (trademark Teflon), polycarbonate, polyphenylene sulfide, epoxy, and polyetheretherketone. And, although most have excellent thermal and electrical insulation properties, some plastics can be made to conduct electricity when required. They are represented chiefly by polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polystyrene. Plastic is everywhere: In your home, your office, your school — and your ocean. For this reason the properties indicated in the table must be taken as approximations. An example would be polycarbonate, whose molecules contain two aromatic (benzene) rings: The distinction between carbon-chain and heterochain polymers is reflected in the table, in which selected properties and applications of the most important carbon-chain and heterochain plastics are shown and from which links are provided directly to entries that describe these materials in greater detail. Most are insulators with high dielectric strength. Welding is a relatively simple task to do at home since plastic is so soft and pliable. Plastic near waterways that may find its way into the oceans through rivers is a prime example. The resin coding system was originally intended for rigid plastic containers only. EPA began collecting and reporting data on the generation and disposition of waste in the United States more than 30 years ago. Designers and manufacturers frequently choose these transparent polymers as an alternative when traditional glass is too heavy or will break too easily. Thermoplastic elastomers are described in the article elastomer. For the purposes of this article, plastics are primarily defined not on the basis of their chemical composition but on the basis of their engineering behaviour. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. However, many of the additives in plastics are toxic and may leach into the environment. She and the song later became popular online when the song resurfaced on YouTube. These types of plastics would be biodegradable and better for the environment. Glassy polymers tend to be stiff (e.g., polystyrene). *All values shown are for glass-fibre-reinforced samples (except for polyurethane). Plastic film is typically defined as any plastic less than 10 mil thick. Plastic hangs around in the environment for centuries, so recycling is the best method of disposal. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. These additives affect the chemical composition, chemical properties, and mechanical properties of plastic, as well as its cost. How to use plastic in a sentence. They are amorphous and considered to have infinite molecular weight. Plastics are derived from natural, organic materials such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and, of course, crude oil. Industrial fabricators of plastic products tend to think of plastics as either “commodity” resins or “specialty” resins. However, thin sheets of these polymers can be used as films (e.g., polyethylene). Another third is used for siding and piping. 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