Plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the modern world. From food containers, toys and furniture to automotive parts, the uses of plastic are endless and you can probably find it in almost every household and workplace around the world.
But do we know where it comes from? The majority of the plastic we use every day is man-made. These plastics are known as synthetic plastics and most are derived from crude oil, although coal and natural gas are also sometimes used to produce plastics.
Certain gases are created as by-products during the process of refining oil. These gases are broken down into monomers. These monomers are then combined by chemical bonds into a chain or a network known as polymerisation. The compounds formed are known as polymers. Most polymers are made from the combination of carbon with other elements such as oxygen, hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine and nitrogen.
If the monomers join together in a long line like a chain, the polymer is called a thermoplastic. When heated the molecules move apart, making the pliable so you can mould it into different shapes. When cooled, they solidify. The process of heating and cooling can be repeated many times and the plastic will shift between the two states.
When the monomers connect in a three-dimensional network, the polymer is called a thermoset. Although they soften when heated the first time, which allows them to be shaped, they become permanently stiff and solid once cooled and cannot be reshaped.
Plastic is usually made into small pellets that are then melted down and used to make various plastic products. Before the plastic pellets can leave the factory where they are made, they must undergo stringent testing to ensure that they have been made correctly. The quality of the plastic pellets is very important.
At P&CT we are passionate about providing the best equipment and services that help you make the plastic products we know and love. Talk to us today for more information on our products and services to the plastic industry..