Bio-based plastics are plastics made in whole or partially from biological resources.
Properties can vary considerably from material to material.
Bio-based or partly bio-based durable plastics, so called "drop-in bioplastics” such as bio-based or partly bio-based PE, PET or PVC, possess identical properties as their conventional versions. These bio-based plastics cannot be distinguished from conventional commodity plastics other than by scientific analyses.
Biodegradable plastics are plastics degraded by microorganisms into water, carbon dioxide (or methane) and biomass under specified conditions.
Two basic classes of biodegradable plastics exist:
Bioplastics, whose components are derived from renewable raw materials
Plastics made from petrochemicals with biodegradable additives which enhance biodegradation.
Engineering Thermoplastics are a subset of plastic materials that are used in applications generally requiring higher performance in the areas of heat resistance, chemical resistance, impact, fire retardancy or mechanical strength. Engineering Thermoplastics are so named as they have properties in one or more areas that exhibit higher performance than commodity materials and are suitable for applications that require engineering to design parts that perform in their intended use.
Elastomers are a category of pliable plastic material that are good at insulating, withstanding deformation, and molding into different shapes. As a particular kind of polymer, elastomers include natural and artificial rubber. We find elastomers in a wide variety of applications, from the wheels on a skateboard and the soles of tennis shoes, to the insulation covering speaker cables and telephone lines.
Epoxy Resins: their physical state can be changed from a low viscosity liquid to a high melting point solid, which means that a wide range of materials with unique properties can be made
As a family of synthetic resins, their physical state can be anything from a low viscosity liquid to a high melting point solid. 'Cross-linked' with a variety of curing agents or hardeners, they form a range of materials with a unique combination of properties, which make a considerable contribution to practically every major industry.
EPS, or Expandable Polystyrene: a thermoplastic product that is lightweight, strong, and offers excellent thermal insulation, making it ideal for the packaging and construction industries.
EPS has been a material of choice for over half a century because of its technical versatility, performance and cost effectiveness. It is widely used in many everyday applications where its light weight, strength, durability, thermal insulation and shock absorption characteristics provide economic, high performance products.
Fluoropolymers: are a family of high-performance plastics. The best known member of this family is called PTFE. PTFE is one of the smoothest materials around, and very tough!
Applications for fluoropolymers are driven by their superior physical and chemical properties.
Polyolefins are produced from oil or natural gas by a process of polymerisation, where short chains of chemicals (monomers) are joined in the presence of a catalyst to make long chains (polymers). Polymers are solid thermoplastics that can be processed in two ways – by film extrusion or moulding. During film extrusion the polymer is heated and forced, in a molten state, through a die to produce thick sheet, thin film or fibres. The thickness of the film can be varied to produce anything from lightweight food packaging wrap to much heavier film for agricultural use. The moulding process involves heating and compressing the polymer in an extruder, and then forcing it into a mould where it solidifies into the required shape.
Benefits of polyolefins
Because of their versatility, Polyolefins are one of the most popular plastics in use today. Their many applications include:
LDPE: stretch film, industrial packaging film, thin walled containers, and heavy-duty, medium- and small bags.
HDPE: crates and boxes, bottles (for food products, detergents, cosmetics), food containers, toys, petrol tanks, industrial wrapping and film, pipes and houseware.
PP: food packaging, including yoghurt, margarine pots, sweet and snack wrappers, microwave-proof containers, carpet fibres, garden furniture, medical packaging and appliances, luggage, kitchen appliances, and pipes.
Polyethylene teraphtalate: is one of the most commonly used plastics in Europe’s packaging industry for several reasons.
PET is one of the most commonly used plastics in Europe’s packaging industry for several reasons. It is very strong, it can withstand high pressures and being dropped without bursting. It has excellent gas barrier properties, so it keeps the fizz in fizzy drinks, and protects the taste of the drinks in the bottles.
PS, or Polystyrene: a thermoplastic polymer which softens when heated and can be converted into semi-finished products like films and sheets, as well as a wide range of finished articles.
Polystyrene (PS) is a synthetic aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid petrochemical. Polystyrene can be rigid or foamed. General purpose polystyrene is clear, hard and brittle. It is a very inexpensive resin per unit weight. It is a rather poor barrier to oxygen and water vapor and has relatively low melting point. Polystyrene can be naturally transparent, but can be colored with colorants.
PUR (or Polyurethane) is a resilient, flexible and durable manufactured material.
Not only are polyurethanes affordable and safe, they are also sustainable materials offering added comfort and protection to our everyday lives.
Polyurethane preserve the Earth’s natural resources by reducing the need for energy.
Polyurethanes make our lives more comfortable, from the relaxation provided by foams in furniture and bedding, to the insulation that regulates temperature inside buildings. In cars their cushioning properties help protect drivers and passengers in case of collision.
The material’s enormous adaptability and availability, not to mention affordability and recyclability, make it a material of choice for many manufacturers.
PVC, or Polyvinyl chloride: is one of the earliest plastics, and is also one of the most extensively used. It is derived from salt (57%) and oil or gas (43%).
PVC’s combination of properties enables it to deliver performance advantages that are hard to match. This material is durable and light, strong, fire resistant, with excellent insulating properties and low permeability. By varying the use of additives in the manufacturing of PVC products, features such as strength, rigidity, colour and transparency can be adjusted to meet most applications.
A thermoplastic is a type of plastic made from polymer resins that becomes a homogenized liquid when heated and hard when cooled. When frozen, however, a thermoplastic becomes glass-like and subject to fracture. These characteristics, which lend the material its name, are reversible. That is, it can be reheated, reshaped, and frozen repeatedly. This quality also makes thermoplastics recyclable.
There are dozens of kinds of thermoplastics, with each type varying in crystalline organization and density. Some types that are commonly produced today are polypropylene, polyethylene, polyvinylchloride, polystyrene, polyethylenetheraphthalate and polycarbonate.
Thermoset, or thermosetting, plastics are synthetic materials that undergo a chemical change when they are treated, creating a three-dimensional network. After they are heated and formed, these molecules cannot be re-treated and reformed.
Thermosetting plastics retain their strength and shape even when heated. This makes thermosetting plastics well-suited to the production of permanent components and large, solid shapes. Additionally, these components have excellent strength attributes and will not become weaker when the temperature increases.
Each type of thermosetting plastic has a unique set of properties. Epoxies, for example, exhibit elasticity and exceptional chemical resistance, and are relatively easy to cure. Phenolics, while fairly simple to mold, are brittle, strong and hard. Because of their wide range of characteristics, thermosetting plastics find use in an extensive variety of applications, from electrical insulators to car bodies.