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What Are Plastics: The Chemistry
- Apr 16, 2018 -

What are Plastics: the Chemistry

The chemistry of plastics can be complex, but the basics are straightforward. Think back to your high school science lessons about atoms and molecules (groups of atoms). Plastics are simply chains of like molecules linked together. These chains are called polymers. This is why many plastics begin with “poly,” such as polyethylene, polystyrene, and polypropylene. Polymers often are made of carbon and hydrogen and sometimes oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, chlorine, fluorine, phosphorous, or silicon.

The term “plastics” encompasses all these various polymers.

Although there are many polymers, plastics in general are lightweight with significant degrees of strength. Plastics can be molded, extruded, cast and blown into seemingly limitless shapes and films or foams or even drawn into fibers for textiles. Many types of coatings, sealants and glues are actually plastics, too.