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Plastics Essay

787 words - 3 pages

Plastics

Plastics are often frowned upon. This is because people often think of
them as cheap and not aesthetically pleasing. However they come in
many different forms and often look very nice. Obviously there are
types that do give the product a bad name. Mainly the cheap toys that
are produced in the far east. This is not right and plastics should be
seen as a real alternative and be able offer a huge amount of uses for
this product.

Polymers

Polymers such as rubber, plastics and adhesives are organic
structures. They can be natural, like amber and shellac, modified
natural materials, like cellulose and casein, or synthetic, like nylon
and polypropylene. Synthetic polymers are produced from gas, coal or
oil products. Large molecules are built up by the connection of many
base units, the monomer molecule, to give a polymer. This process is
called polymerisation and as the polymer grows, perhaps to several
thousand atoms, the melting point increases and it becomes stronger
and more rigid. Polymers are lightweight, have good corrosion
resistance but relatively low strength and conductivity and do not
retain their properties at high temperatures. There are three main
types of polymer structure which all react in different ways when
heated:

• thermoplastics,

• thermosets,

• elastomers.

Thermoplastic articles can be formed at high temperatures, cooled,
reheated and reshaped many times without changing their structure and
properties irreversibly. The thermoplastic structure is composed of
linear chain molecules, sometimes with side branching of the
molecules, which have weak, secondary bonding between adjacent chains.
When subjected to pressure, thermoplastics can deform in two ways.
Elastic deformation occurs in which the initially curled long chains
stretch out and this deformation is recovered when the pressure is
removed. At higher temperatures or pressures, viscous or plastic
deformation occurs in which the secondary bonds weaken and allow the
molecular chains to slide over each other. This weakening of the bonds
at higher temperatures means...

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