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8 Kinds of Thermoplastics and What You Can Do With Them

Thermoplastics are plastics that can be melted and reshaped multiple times. Read as our plastic injection molding manufacturer discusses eight kinds of thermoplastics and what you can do with them!

Thermoplastics are recyclable materials that are frequently used to create objects like safety helmets, acrylic lenses, polyethylene squeeze bottles, and foam cups. Their unique properties set them apart from the other two types of plastic: elastomers and thermosets. Pressure and heat cause the molecular structure of a thermoplastic to change, making it more useful and pliable.

They’re the only type of plastic that can be welded. When heated to around 120 to 180 degrees Celsius, thermoplastics either become liquid or pasty, and they can be molded and formed into a variety of shapes. Every type of thermoplastic has its melting temperature, characteristics, and properties. Since they can withstand repeated reshaping and heating, they can be recycled. The new form is set once the thermoplastic object has cooled down.

Here, our plastic injection molding manufacturer discusses eight kinds of thermoplastics and what you can do with them:

Polyester

This is one of the most common thermoplastics, which is frequently used to produce bed linens, clothing, and other domestic fabrics. However, polyester is also used in packaging, automotive, medical, and electrical applications. The following are some industrial uses of this thermoplastic:

  • Plastic reinforcements
  • Tarpaulins
  • Coated fabrics
  • Seat belts
  • Conveyor belt fabrics
  • Yarns
  • Ropes

Polyester provides a high toughness-stiffness balance, dimensional stability, and incredible chemical resistance. Plus, they’re very stain-resistant. However, drying times can be a critical concern because polyester fabrics can be subject to poor thermal qualities and moisture susceptibility.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

Composed of three polymers, namely styrene, butadiene, and acrylonitrile, this opaque thermoplastic is a terpolymer. This combination produces an extremely light, flexible material. ABS can be modified to produce the exact levels of heat resistance, toughness, and impact resistance that the manufacturer needs by molding it at a low or high temperature. This polyester is commonly used in sporting equipment, musical instruments, automotive parts, and drainpipe systems like:

  • Tennis rackets
  • Club captains

ABS is also an integral component of LEGO, something that perennial children love.

Polypropylene (PP)

This is a very flexible thermoplastic, which makes it ideal for applications like rugs, athletic clothing, and car parts that need to be bent into position. Some other uses of PP include food containers, as this thermoplastic doesn’t break down easily when placed in contact with water, detergents, and even acids. So, reusing it multiple times is possible, which doesn’t just reduce waste but results in an eco-friendlier product. PP has a high resistance to cracking and stress and a high melting point. This thermoplastic has been compounded for an array of products and is quite versatile.

Polystyrene

Thanks to its resistance to heavy knocks and impacts and overall tough nature, polystyrene has become very popular. This thermoplastic is created by altering crystal styrene with rubber, which leads to its remarkable resistance to impacts. Polystyrene is usually used to safeguard assets like valuable machinery and isn’t just easy to produce but is low cost as well. This material isn’t toxic and can be produced to meet FDA-grade requirements. Plus, it can be used to make containers for consumable goods. Although polystyrene is flammable, it’s possible to produce flame retardant versions as well as high-gloss grades that provide a top-notch finish.

Polyamide

Popularly known as nylon, polyamide is a common material used in sports equipment and fabrics. It’s resistant to wear and tear and is extremely tough. Since the level of stability of nylon is high, it retains its strength even when put under significant strain. In addition, it’s very resistant to other external forces as well, including impact, chemical corrosion, and abrasion. Besides clothing, nylon is used in several applications, including:

  • Industrial components and within the automotive industry.
  • Medical products
  • Footwear
  • Sports equipment

Acrylic

Acrylic is loved for its versatile nature and attractive finish. This thermoplastic can be molded in a range of colors as well. Acrylic has strong impact resistance and is pretty rigid. Usually, acrylic sheeting is used as an alternative to glass in applications like:

  • Motorcycle helmet visors
  • Aquariums
  • Fish tanks
  • Windows

This material is also used in arts and crafts projects—mainly because of its aesthetic appeal and transparency. Other uses include automotive lighting and shop signage, as it’s easy to clean and maintain and has high resistance to adverse weather conditions.

Polycarbonate

This thermoplastic comes into its own when a transparent, strong material is needed. Since it has incredible impact resistance, it’s suitable for:

  • Reinforced greenhouse panels.
  • Bulletproof glass

Polycarbonate can also undergo high levels of stress without breaking or cracking. Some other uses of polycarbonate include:

  • Mobile phone components
  • Eyewear lenses
  • DVDs

It’s easy to thermoform and mold polycarbonate, which is why it’s heavily used in the construction industry. They’re perfect for:

  • Porch or outbuilding windows
  • Conservatory roofing
  • Greenhouse panels

Polythene

It’s one of the best-known thermoplastics known outside engineering and manufacturing circles for its versatility as a packaging product.

It has a variable crystalline structure that allows for an array of applications. Developed in the 1950s in Europe, polyethylene can be classified as either LDPE (low-density polyethylene) or HDPE (high-density polyethylene).

Both variants have high recyclability, moisture resistance, impact resistance, and tensile strength. Higher-density versions, on the other hand, are more heat resistant and rigid, making them ideal for

  • Food containers
  • Bottles

While the lower density alternative tends to be used more for

  • Films
  • Plastic bags

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