The world of polymers has penetrated almost every part of the country and the world at large. Industrial polymers offer hundreds and thousands of applications that can benefit us in our day-to-day doings. Probably, you must have used a product made from one or a combination of different polymers a couple of times. You may also be using some industrial polymer(s) to produce commercial themed products in your business. We’ve made a list of 9 common industrial polymers you must have come across in one way or another. Please read on.
These are a class of very versatile polymers formed by reacting an alcohol (with a functional group OH) and an isocyanate (a compound with a functional group NCO). The polymers can be made into elastomers, rigid and flexible foams, fibres, and surface coatings. Perhaps you’ve used or are producing various products made from polyurethane in your business. Flexible polyurethane foam, such as that produced in this company, can be used in bedding, crash panels, upholstery, automobile seats, sponges, textile laminates, and carpet underlays.
Rigid polyurethane is applied in lightweight furnishings, marine floatation equipment, packaging, and insulation. Polyurethane fibres, such as spandex, are used mostly in garments with high stretch requirements like sportswear and swimsuits owing to their strength and high abrasion resistance. Elastomers are made into flexible molds, industrial rollers, automobile parts, shoe soles, medical equipment, roller-skate, and forklift tires. Surface coatings, on the other hand, are mainly applied to concrete, wood, and machine & automobile parts.
- Polyethylene (PE)
This is the largest single class of plastics that you’re bound to use every single day. There are various forms of PE with LDPE and HDPE being the major forms. LDPE is formed from gaseous ethylene at high pressures and temperatures in the presence of peroxide initiators to yield a partly crystalline product of high flexibility. This is used in agricultural mulch, grocery and trash bags, packaging film, housewares, toys, squeeze bottles, and wire & cable insulation.
HDPE is made from low pressures and temperatures to produce a dense, moderately stiff, high strength, and highly crystalline product. This is used in injection-molded toys, bottle caps, pails, appliance housings and blow-molded bottles for household cleaners and milk.
- Polypropylene (PP)
This is a highly crystalline thermoplastic resin made from the chain-growth polymerization of propylene compound. The isotactic form of PP is the only form marketed in significant quantities and is produced at low pressures and temperatures. Most properties are similar to those of PE only that it’s stiffer, slightly more oxidation-sensitive, and has higher melting points.
PP fibres are used in fabrics for home furnishings, disposable non-woven fabrics for medical applications and diapers, rope and cordage, and non-woven fabrics for reinforcement and stabilization in road paving and construction. As a plastic, PP is blow-molded into bottles for household liquids and injection-molded into toys, appliance housings, outdoor furniture, and dishwasher-proof food containers.
This is a polyester polymer majorly used as an engineering plastic. It’s characterized by its excellent stiffness due to several aromatic rings incorporated into the polymer chain. This polyester has an impact strength and can be extruded, blow-molded, or injection-molded. These properties explain its wide application in industries for making shatter-proof windows, safety helmets, and safety shields. The plastic is also favorable in making compact discs through injection molding.
Probably you’ve used this product more than a thousand times either at your home or business. This was the first wholly synthetic fibre ever formed. The polymer is characterized by its high strength, abrasion resistance, elasticity, lustre, mildew resistance, shape-holding, and dyeability properties. These properties have made the polymer ideal for innumerable applications in machinery, automobiles, home furnishings, and apparel.
Molded and extruded nylon plastic parts exhibit stiffness, chemical inertness, strength, toughness, and high melting points making it ideal for use as oil seals, temperature-resistant packaging film, and gear wheels. Nylon fibre is used for home furnishings and apparel especially in sports garments, lingerie, hosiery, ropes, parachutes, artificial leather, disposable garments, automobile tires, seat belts, carpets, and stretch fabrics.
- Polyvinylchloride (PVC)
PVC production and consumption rank second after PE. It’s made from suspension, solution, bulk, and emulsion polymerization of the monomer, vinyl chloride. Pure PVC is characterized by low flammability and rigidity which makes it ideal for use in the pipe, door and window frames, siding, and conduit. It can also be combined with a plasticizer and used to produce shower curtains, garden hose, floor tiles, and imitation leather upholstery.
These polymers contain at least one sulfur atoms group in their structure. The main types commonly used are polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) and polysulfide rubber (Thiokol). PPS is a very strong, highly crystalline engineering plastic exhibiting good chemical resistance and thermal stability. It’s ideal for use principally in coatings, electrical & electronic processing equipment, appliances, and machine & automotive parts. Polysulfide rubber is known for its excellent resistance to lubricants and solvents. Due to this, it’s used in oil-resistant and weather-resistant gaskets and seals, as binders for solid rocket propellants, and in gasoline hoses.
Silicones are those polymers that contain alternating oxygen and silicon atoms in their structure. These polymers can exist as adhesives, liquids, resins, elastomers, and greases. They’re characterized by their stability at low and high temperatures, resistance to oxidation and water, and great inertness. These properties are responsible for the wide applications of the polymers including flexible molds, electrical insulators, gaskets & caulks, heat-resistant seals, O-rings, and surgical implants.
These are polymers made from the combination of monomers through ether linkages. Elastomers and engineering plastics are the common polyethers manufactured. Polyacetal polymer is a high-strength and highly crystalline engineering plastic exhibiting excellent resistance to solvents, greases, and oils and low coefficient of friction. It’s used in gears, plumbing fixtures, toiletry, toys, appliances, food-processing equipment, electronics components, and belt buckles. Polyphenylene oxide is normally blended with polystyrene to form a moisture-resistant, high-strength engineering plastic used in appliances, valves, computer and telecommunications equipment, pipes, and automotive parts.
Industrial polymers play a major role in our day-to-day lives. This is because of the vast applications that we can get from using such polymers for different projects based on their properties. The above examples are some of the most popular industrial polymers available. However, there are several other polymers that can you can use for different and important purposes. You can look out for other relevant themed blogs to learn more about industrial polymers and their applications.