. Plastics types & uses .

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Acetal is a thermoplastic that was introduced in 1956. It is widely recognized as a potential replacement for die-cast metals because it is very rigid, yet not brittle.

Acetal has a high melting point, is resistant to fatigue, and very strong.

Currently, acetal is used to create cams, bearings, gears, bushings, housings, and conveyors. In addition, acetal is used in automotive seat belt components and door handles, shaver cartridges, in the moving parts in appliances and business machines, in gas tank caps, in plumbing fixtures, and in zippers.


Acrylics became a part of the plastics family in 1936 and were used in World War II as aircraft canopies. Acrylics are known for being rigid, hard, and transparent. It is particularly useful in products that will be exposed to sunlight or other weather elements for periods of time because it is very resistant to sunlight and weathering.

Today, acrylics are used in outdoor signs, lighting diffusers, washbasins, automobile tail lights, sinks, tables, safety shields, and skylights. Acrylics are also used for large enclosures, such as swimming pools and room dividers.

Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)

This thermoplastic, which was introduced in 1948, is made by combining acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. As a result, it draws upon the strengths of each. ABS is very durable against impact and has a high mechanical strength.

Therefore, it is commonly used in automotive parts, appliances, business machines, pipes, and telephone components.


Cellulosics has been around since 1868 when it was invented by John Wesley Hyatt. Several variations of the original cellulosics have been introduced since the early 1900s. Today, it is found in appliance housings, toys, knobs, handles, packaging, and automotive parts.

Diallyl Phthalate (DP)

DAP can be made in both polymeric and monomeric form. As a polymer, it is used to produce casting resins, thermosetting molding powders, and laminates.


Epoxies are used in numerous ways. In combination with glass fibers, it is capable of producing composites that are of high strength and that are heat resistant. This composite is typically used for filament wound rocket motor casings in missiles, in aircraft components, and in tanks, pipes, tooling jigs, pressure vessels, and fixtures.

Epoxies are also found in gymnasium floors, industrial equipment, sealants, and protective coatings in appliances.


Fluoropolymers are inert to most chemicals and resistant to high temperatures. They also have low coefficients of friction and have superb dielectric properties. Therefore, fluoropolymers are used in electronics, as well as in pipe and in chemical processing equipment. It is also found in the non-stick coatings used for cookware.


Melamine-formaldehyde is used in many household goods, including dinnerware. This plastic is very easy to color and is very hard.

Nitrile Resins

Nitrile resins were first developed in the late 1960s. They are resistant to flavor, aroma, and the transmission of gas. Therefore, they are ideal for packaging.

Polyamide (Nylon)

Nylon first appeared in 1939 when its fiber was used in the production of nylon stockings. Nylon is found in more than just stockings, however, such as in electronics, automotive parts, and in packaging.


Phenolic plastics are thermosetting resins used in potting compounds, casting resins, and laminating resins. They can also be used for electrical purposes and are a popular binder for holding together plies of wood for plywood.


Polyamide-imide is used in the automotive, aerospace, and heavy equipment industries.


Polyarylates are used in appliance, automotive, and electrical applications such as outdoor lighting because they are resistant to heat.


Polybutylene is a thermoplastic that is resistant to creep, chemicals, and cracking, while being very flexible. It is typically used in packaging film and pipes.


Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic that was first developed in 1957. It was originally created as a means of competing against die-cast metals. Polycarbonates are tough, strong, and rigid, yet ductile. They can be maintained over a wide range of loading rates and temperatures and are excellent electrical insulators.

They are transparent and, therefore, are often used in the creation of water bottles. They are also used for electrical purposes, glazing, and appliances. In addition, they can be processed in numerous ways, including extrusion, injection molding, rotational molding, and blow molding.


Polyethylene came to the forefront during World War II, when it was used for underwater cable coating. It was then used as an insulating material for other military purposes, such as radar cable.

After the war was over, it was put to commercial use and has become one of the most popular forms of plastic. In fact, it was the first plastic in the United States to sell more than billion pounds a year. It remains the most popular plastic in the country, being found in drums, containers, pipe, toys, housewares, shopping bags, trash bags, garment bags, packaging films, gasoline tanks, and coatings.


Polymides are a thermoset plastic that first appeared in the 1960s. They are typically used in laminates, enamels, gears, adhesives, bushings, covers, valve seats, piston rings, and solutions such as laminating varnish.

Polyphenylene Oxide, Modified

Polyphenylene Oxide is an engineered thermoplastic used in business machine parts, automotive parts, appliances, and electronics.

Polyphenylene Sulfide

Polyphenylene sulfide is heat and chemical resistant. It also has a good retention of mechanical properties at high temperatures and are very stiff. Therefore, they are often used in automotive and electronic parts.


Polypropylene is a highly used thermoplastic that was first developed in Europe and brought to the United States in 1957. It is fairly rigid, has a low density, excellent chemical resistance, electrical properties, and has a heat distortion temperature of 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, it is very simple to process.

It is most often used in automotive parts, packaging, carpeting, and appliances.


Polystyrene was first created in 1845, but was not put into commercial production until 1925. Now, polystyrene is one of the most used thermoplastics, with the foamed version being used in protective packaging, foam containers and cups, and building insulation. It is also used in toys, automotive parts, housewares, wall tiles, appliance parts, television and radio housings, floats, furniture, and luggage.


Polyurethanes have been around since 1954 and are very versatile. In fact, they are available in rubbers, adhesives, sealants, coatings, and flexible or rigid foams. Most are considered to be thermosets, though some are thermoplastics. The foam version is created by reacting polyols and isocyanates, which are then introduced to a blowing agent. The foams can be made to be rigid, flexible, or tough, depending on the purpose.

The foam polyurethanes have excellent thermal insulating properties and, therefore, are used in building insulation. In addition, they have good dimensional stability and compressive strength, making them ideal for use in trucks, refrigerators, and boats for floatation purposes. They can also be very cushiony with energy-absorbing properties and durability. Therefore, they are also used as carpet underlay, in furniture, in automobile seating, in bedding, in packaging, and as safety padding.

Polyurethanes also have protective qualities, making them great for use as coatings for metals, wood, rubber, concrete, leather, paper, and plastic. Their toughness and resistance to abrasion also make them ideal for gaskets and seals, printing rolls, drive and conveyor belts, cable insulation, and solid tires.

Polyvinyl Acetate (PVAc) and Other Vinyls

Polyvinyl acetate, which is a thermoplastic, is used to create solid vinyl acetate. It is typically used in paints, adhesives, coatings, and packaging.

Polyvinyl Chloride

Polyvinyl Chloride, commonly referred to as PVC or vinyl, was first invented in Germany around 1910. It didn't become a useful product in the United States, however, until the late 1920s. It became particularly useful during World War II when it was used as a substitute for rubber, which was in short supply.

Polyvinyl Chloride is resistant to abrasion and is both weather and chemical resistant. Today, it is commonly found in upholstery, wall coverings, flooring, siding, pipe, and even apparel. In fact, vinyl is perhaps the best known of all plastics.

Styrene Acrylonitrile

Styrene Acrylonitrile is typically used in housewares an din the interior trim and instrument panels of automobiles.

Sulfone Polymers

Sulfone Polymers are found in automotive parts and electronics.

Thermoplastic Polyster

Thermoplastic Polyster compounds were introduced in the 1970s and are hard, crystalline, strong, and tough. They are commonly used in soda bottles, as well as in magnetic tape for video, audio, and computers. They are also used in X-ray film, strapping, labels, and packaging.

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