Types of plastics – That You Must Know?

Plastic is the thing that we see or use in almost every day-to-day application. It has become the key component of manufacturing different things and it has a prominent significance in our daily lives. Can you imagine a day where you will not use any type of plastic material or plastic object? Such a day will be impossible. And that is why the plastic is very much important to human beings. When someone asks you aout types of plastic then, are you able to answer this question? Most of the time, we are not able to answer such simple question. The question, types of plastic, is very simple, but it becomes very difficult to give its answer. But don’t worry, in this article, you will know about various types of plastics? So, what are you waiting for? Let’s discuss about it.

Types of plastics

Types of Plastics

Fundamentally, there are only two types of plastic:

  1. Thermoplastic and
  2. Thermosets or Thermosetting plastic.

Thermosets

Thermosets are the plastic material which are hard as well as durable. This type pf plastic material is not able to take its original shape. Thermosets have a wide range of applications and they are used in the manufacturing of the aircraft parts, tires and the parts of the automobile. Have you ever heard about the polyurethanes, polyesters? Well, all these are the thermosets. Apart from these, epoxy resins and phenolics resins are also the examples of the thermosets.

Thermoplastic

If you compare both the thermosets and the thermoplastic then, thermoplastics are less rigid than the thermosets. When you heat the thermoplastic then, they get soften. Another important property of the thermoplastic is that they return to their original shape upon heating. It is also observed that the thermoplastic material is easily moulded. We use Polyvinyl Chloride in the wires. This Polyvinyl Chloride is popularly abbreviated as the PVC. This PVC is nothing but one of the examples of the thermoplastic. Polyethylene and polypropylene are also the thermoplastic material.

Well, the above two are the basic types of the plastics but generally the following seven types are used.

1. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is the oldest and a well-known plastic type and it was discovered twice in 1838 and in 1872. Both the times, it was accidentally invented. PVC is also named as the “Poison Plastic”. PVC is very harmful to human beings as it contains poisonous toxins that may often lead to the death. So, it is used very carefully. As it is poisonous, it has many disadvantages. Only 1% of the PVC material is able to recycle.

Plastic tile
Applications

We use PVC in case of grocery bags, making of tiles as well as shoes.

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2. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

Do you know the most common types of plastics that you use in your daily life? Polyethylene Terephthalate is considered as the most common type of the plastic that humans used in their life. It is prominently abbreviated as the PET or sometimes PETE. It was discovered in 1940. James Dickson and J. Whinfield invented the PET. But after its discovery, it took more than 30 years to use this plastic in various applications. So, after more than 30 years of discovery, this plastic was used in the manufacturing the bottles of the famous brands like Pepsi and Coco-Cola. In the entire United States, 96% of the bottles are made with the help of this plastic. It is also used in the recycling process and it is reported that 25% of the PETE objects are recycled.

Plastic Ropes

Applications

PET is used in the making of the bean bags, ropes, carpet as well as it is the base of the soda bottle manufacturing.

3. Polystyrene or Styrofoam (PS)

Polystyrene was discovered in 1839 by Eduard Simon. Eduard Simon was a German scientist and he had received various awards for inventing the polystyrene. The benefit of the Styrofoam is that it is light in weight. As it is light in weight, it has been used in many applications. It is the most harmful plastic to the human beings and though it is light in weight, a restriction on its applications is applied. It cannot be recycled. It is also used as an insulator.

Plastic Coffee cups

Applications

Polystyrene is used in the preparation of the plastic boxes as well as the cups of the coffee.

4. Polypropylene (PP):

In 1951, Robert Banks and J. Hogan discovered the polypropylene accidently while doing an experiment. Hogan and Banks were trying to covert the propylene into the gasoline and while converting propylene into gasoline they invented the polypropylene. As it cannot recycled to that extent, polypropylene is not used in many applications. It is reported that less than 5% of the polypropylene material is recycled.

Plastic Kitchen Utilities
Applications

Polypropylene is used in the making of the diapers, all the kitchen utilities as well as in the caps that we used in the stadiums.

5. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

High Density Polyethylene was invented by the Karl Ziegler and Erhard Holzkamp in 1853. They used the low-pressure condition and the catalysts to made the high-density polyethylene. HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic material. It is known for its hardness. This plastic material does not break at all when you expose it to the drastic heat or cold conditions. Its properties also not change in the extreme atmospheric conditions.

plastic bottles

Applications

It is used in the manufacturing of the bottles of the shampoo as well as detergent containers.

6. Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Low Density Polyethylene have less mass than that of the HDPE. It is also named as the first polyethylene material produced. Though it has a very small mass, it effects on environment negatively and therefore, it has very small number of applications.

Applications 

Low density polyethylene is used making of the bags in which we kept sandwiches and the lids of the containers.

7. Miscellaneous Plastic

The miscellaneous plastic includes all the remaining plastic types such as acrylic, polycarbonate, nylon, butadiene, polyctide, fibre glass, etc. These types of plastic are non-recyclable.  

Applications 

Miscellaneous plastic is used in the preparation of the plastic CDs, as well as in the DVDs and in the bottles of the small children.

That is all about the types of plastics. By reading this post, we are sure that you get the perfect knowledge about the types plastic and their applications.

The bottom line is that plastic is of basically 2 types but we consider seven types in our daily applications. Each of the plastic type has its advantages as well as disadvantages. It is very important to select the right choice of the plastic which will not affect the environment as well as it will be perfect for our use.

Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra is a blogger by passion and Mechanical Engineer by profession. He has completed his B.Tech degree in mechanical engineering in the year 2015. He loves to share his knowledge and help others.

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