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The Different Types Of Plastic Products And Why They Are Useful

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Plastics have been around for a long time now and can be seen all around us in our daily lives as they are known for being easy to mold into affordable, durable, and lightweight products. However, these properties and quality of plastic products vary depending on their use, the products commonly known to use plastics in their productions include: 

  • Construction materials 
  • Car parts
  • Food packaging and kitchenware
  • Electronics such as computers, phones, and televisions
  • Sportswear such as goggles, helmets, and protective padding
  • Kitchen Appliances 
  • Garden furniture
  • Medical equipment
  • Toys
  • Factory equipment

Take a look at our guide below to get a good idea of the different types of plastic products and why they are useful in commerce, at home, or in construction. 

Polycarbonate

Known for being tough and impact-resistant, polycarbonate (PC) is an almost unbreakable material. Typically, it is sold in clear or translucent sheets with varying thickness and properties ranging from clear twinwall polycarbonate cut-to-size used for roofing panels and greenhouses to clear polycarbonate sheets used for safety glasses and room dividers. Other types of polycarbonate plastic products commonly used include:

  • Colored polycarbonate sheet. These are equal to clear polycarbonate plastic sheets in terms of durability, however, they are available in a range of colors and make an excellent choice of material for both indoor or outdoor displays and signage.
  • Abrasion-resistant polycarbonate sheet. Highly durable and scratch-resistant plastic with a strong coating on both sides to add further protection from chemicals, ultraviolet light, and weathering. 
  • UV resistant polycarbonate sheets. Similar to general-purpose polycarbonate, these sheets of plastic are also strong and transparent, however, they are coated with a UV resistant coating to protect the material from sunlight and more extreme heat, cold, wind, and rain

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

PET is widely used in packaging but is most well-known for its use in the manufacture of bottles for juices, soft drinks, and water due to its properties as clear, durable, lightweight, and strong plastic. PET is also used in the production of packaging for other items such as food packaging and take-out containers. 

Acrylic

Commonly referred to as Plexiglass, acrylic sheets are known for being as clear as glass but much lighter and much harder to crack or smash. Acrylic sheets have various applications and can be used to make displays, backsplashes for kitchens and bathrooms, table tops for outdoor furniture, signage, and skylights. Acrylic sheets can be broken down into several different product types: 

  • Clear Cast Acrylic. The process of casting makes these durable, strong, and sturdy sheets even more resistant to chemicals and bending, chipping, and melting. 
  • Clear extruded acrylic. Compared to casted acrylic, these sheets are much more malleable meaning they are easier to bend and mold. 
  • Patterned plexiglass. This type of acrylic sheet is often translucent with an opaque finish, although it still has the same properties as other types of acrylic sheets.
  • Acrylic mirror
  • UV-resistant Plexiglass

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is a commonly used plastic due to its range of useful properties including resistance to chemicals, low density, and high wear resistance which makes it a good choice for food packaging and kitchenware. HPDE is commonly used in the production of chemical containers, cutting boards, grocery bags, pipe systems, recycling bins, toys, and shampoo bottles. 

Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW-PE)

UHMW-PE is an excellent general-purpose plastic because of its ability to absorb very little moisture, therefore it is widely used in packaging machinery components such as chutes, hoppers, idler sprockets, and conveyors. The plastic is extremely durable in addition to creating little friction and being resistant to abrasions and chemicals. 

Engineering Plastics

Providing better mechanical and thermal properties compared to other plastics, engineering plastics such as acetal, nylon, and polypropylene are gradually replacing materials such as metal and wood as the material of choice for many applications due to their excellent chemical resistance, durability, dimension, stability, and machinability. 

Acetal 

Also referred to as POM (Polyoxymethylene), acetal is an engineering-grade thermoplastic used extensively because of its high tensile strength, excellent rigidity, ability to withstand long-term fatigue, and great performance at extreme temperatures.  Acetal is widely used to produce bearings, jigs and fixtures, food processing machinery parts, gears, and electrical components. 

Nylon 

Often used as a replacement for metal in mechanical parts, nylon is a lightweight and tough thermoplastic that can help to reduce operating noise as well as reducing the need for lubricant in parts such as bearings and bushings. 

Polypropylene

A semi-crystalline thermoplastic, Polypropylene (PP) is a plastic touted for its abrasion and chemical resistance,  strength-to-weight ratio, toughness, and performance in extreme temperatures. PP is often used in food processing plants as it can withstand sterilization processes as well as featuring high fatigue endurance. 

Plastics have been a wonder material that has changed and improved many areas of life, this is down to their affordability and wide range of other useful properties which makes them the ideal material.

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