The first synthetic plastics commercially produced were made from phenol and formaldehyde. Over time, the development of urea and thiourea were used to produce foam cushions, melamine, and laminate furniture. Organic chemists, through the 20th century, invented techniques that allowed for plastics to be used for a specific purpose.
Today, most of the synthetic plastics are produced from oil or natural gas which are composed of hydrocarbons that vary in length and configuration. This results in differing properties which, when added with oxygen, chlorine, fluorine, nitrogen, silicon, phosphorous, or sulfur to their hydrocarbon chains, create different plastics. For example, Polyethylene (PE) contains only hydrogen and carbon, whereas tetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) contains fluorine in place of the hydrogen atoms.
This ability serves to create two categories of plastics, thermoplastics, which can be continually and repeatedly reshaped, or recycled, using heat and pressure; and thermosets, which cannot be reshaped once formed. Examples of thermosets would be polyurethane, epoxy, and such. Thermoplastics make up approximately 85% of all plastics produced, with thermosets being the other 15%.
So, when you are considering what thermoplastic would best serve your project needs, call on the specialists at Polystar-Technologies for help!
American Plastics Council. PIPS Year-end Statistics for 2005. Production, Sales, and
Captive Use. Plastic Industry Producers’ Statistics Group.