Engineering Materials

Chapter 8 - Polymers



Outline the structure of plastics Identify the two main types of plastics Describe various plastic processing methods Outline the common plastics, their properties and uses


Plastics are produced from petroleum or natural gases.


bitumen.Introduction – cont’d Polymer can either exist naturally or synthetically A large molecule made up of repeating monomer units consist of chains or rings structure: -[R]n. and etc.(n>2000) They are based chemically on carbon which combines with elements such as H. O. Synthetic polymers include plastics. fibres. silk. wool and rubber 4 . adhesives. elastomers (synthetic rubbers). Natural polymers include shellac. coatings.

which represents average no.Structure of Plastics Simplest polymer is Polyethylene (PE) (C2H4)n Average chain size of a polymer expressed as degree of polymerization ‘n’. of MERs in a chain Average of ‘n’ for polyethylene ranges from 3500 to 25000 Double covalent bond between carbon atoms and four single covalent bonds between carbon and hydrogen atoms H2C=CH2 (monomer) Polymerization is a process where monomers are joined chemically together to form a polymer 5 .

Structure of Plastics – cont’d MER Ethylene monomer Polyethylene Monomer (polymer) n H C H H C H heat pressure catalyst H C H H C H n H C H H C H H C H H C H H C H H C H H C H H C H 6 MER Unit .

Amorphous & Semi-Crystalline Polymers Amorphous materials are oriented in random They are formed and shaped at a temperature above Tg when they are in soft a condition Semi-crystalline polymers form ordered structures Give rise to crystalline regions dispersed within amorphous regions Hot-formed and shaped above Tm or coldformed between Tg and Tm Used above Tg and up to Tm 7 .

8 . 'rubbery' state and 'glassy' state. Temperature at which transition is between the glassy and rubbery states is called glass transition temperature or Tg.Glass Transition Temperature (Tg) Amorphous solids such as polymer can exist in two distinct states.

9 . non-crystalline solid. However. lacking any such nucleus. the liquid phase can be maintained all the way down to the temperature at which Tg occurs.Supercooling Supercooling is the process of cooling a liquid to a temperature below its melting point without it becoming a solid A liquid below its melting point will crystallise in the presence of a seed crystal (nucleus) around which a crystal structure can form. and the liquid solidifies into an amorphous solid – that is.

2.Crystallinity (%) Tg (°C) Tm (°C) LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) PTFE (Polytetraflouroethylene)(Teflon) 65 90 75 75 65 10 0 -90 -110 20 -20 65 80 100 115 137 327 175 265 212 240 Polypropylene (PP) Polyamide (PA) (Nylon 66) PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Polystyrene (PS) Polycarbonate (PC) 0 150 265 10 .Tg and Tm for some Polymers Material Max.1 .Table 8.

Types Of Plastics (a) Thermoplastics (linear structure) Will soften upon heating. thus allowing them to be reworked by forming or extruding. Long chain of molecules are together held by weak Van der Waals forces 11 . Can be reheated and reformed into new shapes a number of times Atoms in repeating molecule are strongly bonded by covalent bonds.

Polymethyl-methacrylate (PMMA) or acrylic (‘Perspex’). Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) (Teflon). Polyethylene (PE). Polystyrene(PS) 12 . Polyamide (PA) (Nylon).Types of Plastics – cont’d Examples of Thermoplastics Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Acronitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS).

Types Of Plastics 13 .

Types Of Plastics – cont’d 14 .

Will degrade if excess heat is applied 15 .Types Of Plastics – cont’d (b) Thermosetting plastics (Thermosets) (crosslined structure) They are formed into permanent shape and cured by chemical reaction Cannot be remelted and reformed into another shape Cannot be recycled.

polyurethane(PUR). phenolformaldehyde (PF) or phenolics (Bakelite).g.Types Of Plastics – cont’d (b) Thermosetting plastics (Thermosets) (con’td) Consist of cross-linking of molecules by strong covalent bond to form a rigid solid. polyester. E. ureaformaldehyde(UF). epoxy(EP). melamineformaldehyde(MF). 16 .

Good electrical and thermal insulation properties. many are not suitable for used above 2000C. Tendency of surface cracks appearing during long usage. and of good appearance. Tend to "creep" (elongate under load). Cheap. Reasonably tough and strong. available in different colours. Good strength/weight ratio. Susceptible to chemical attack and degradation. 17 . Relatively light. LIMITATIONS: Lose their strength at higher temperatures.General Properties of Plastics ADVANTAGES: Resistant to atmosphere corrosion.

and angles. tubes. Used for shaping thermoplastics 18 .Plastics Manufacturing Methods (a) Extrusion: Heated plastic granules are forced through a die in extrusion moulding to form shapes such as rods.

19 .Plastics Manufacturing Methods (cont’d) (b) Compression Moulding: Granulated plastic is placed in a heated mould and compressed with a plunger until required shape is formed. Used for shaping thermosetting plastics.

Moulded part solidifies quickly.Plastics Manufacturing Methods (cont’d) (c) Injection Moulding: Molten plastic is heated and forced into a mould by injection under pressure. Used for shaping thermoplastics 20 . and mould is opened to eject the part.

Used for shaping thermoplastics. Compressed air is blown into the tube which expands to fit the configuration of the mould. 21 .Plastics Manufacturing Methods (cont’d) (d) Blow Moulding: A hollow tube is extruded into a mould. It is then opened after the component (bottle) has cooled down and the bottle is ejected.

Used for shaping thermoplastics 22 .Plastics Manufacturing Methods (cont’d) (e) Vacuum Forming (Thermoforming): Plastic sheets are heated by the heating lamps and are forced into mould by vacuum.

23 .Plastics Manufacturing Methods (cont’d) (f) Casting: Liquid polymer is poured into the mould. Solidification is achieved on completion of polymerization. Used for shaping themosetting plastics.

It is used in pipes. floor tiles. gloves. Both types have good weathering resistance. toy balls. gutters and window frames. excellent electrical insulation properties and good surface properties Plasticised PVC is soft and flexible and it is used in wire covering.SOME COMMON THERMOPLASTICS (a) Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Available in two forms – plasticised or unplasticised. pipe fittings. raincoats and shoes Unplasticised PVC (uPVC) is hard. tough and strong. Credit cards are also made of uPVC 24 .

plastic bags).HDPE (high density polyethylene) LDPE is very tough and flexible.g. Often fabricated into clear thin films. bottle crates.LDPE (low density polyethylene) . A wide variety of coloured products can be obtained. pipes 25 . HDPE is much stronger. tubing and domestic wares. harder and stiffer. Used for dustbins.SOME COMMON THERMOPLASTICS – cont’d (b) Polyethylene (Polythene)(PE) PE is the most extensively used plastics. Clear to whitish translucent plastics. Used in packaging films (e. fluid containers. electrical insulator. Two main types of PE: .

automobile parts (spoilers. airbag panels).SOME COMMON THERMOPLASTICS – cont’d (c) ABS ( Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene). Used for TV housing. stiffness. Luggage bags Spoiler Helmet Airbag panels 26 . dinghy hulls. helmets. Has superior strength. luggage bags. toughness and abrasion resistant properties.

Some HDPE & LDPE Products HDPE LDPE Shower caps Drinking bottles Pipe flange Plastic bags Pipes Bottle crate Gloves Garbage bags Traffic cone 27 .

bearings. High melting temperature (327oC) Used in insulating tapes. non-stick coating in cooking utensils.SOME COMMON THERMOPLASTICS – cont’d (d) Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Also known as Teflon Excellent chemical resistance. gaskets. tough. low coefficient of friction. chopping boards. etc. Boards Sealing tapes Non-stick coating in cooking utensils Teflon hose 28 .

Unsaturated polyesters are thermosetting resins which are used as resin matrix for reinforced composites. 29 . The unique aspect of the thermosetting polyester resin is that they are liquids at room temperature and remain liquid for a substantial time until catalysed or heated into cross-linking.SOME COMMON THERMOSETTING PLASTICS (e) Polyester (Unsaturated) Polyester can be a thermoplastic or a thermoset (thermosetting plastic). However. most common polyesters are thermoplastics.

car bodies and swimming pools Examples: (i) Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). tanks. (ii) Polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) 30 .SOME COMMON THERMOSETTING PLASTICS – cont’d (e) Polyester (Unsaturated) (cont’d) Has good impact resistance. surface hardness and low water absorption Polyester resins are used as matrix for fibreglass reinforcement for boat hulls. wheelbarrows.

Used up to 150oC and it is available only in dark colour. automobile ignition systems and pump parts. gear wheels. Strong. Automobile ignition parts Knobs Telephone 31 .SOME COMMON THERMOSETTING PLASTICS – cont’d (a) Phenol-formaldehyde (Phenolics) Also known as Bakelite. excellent electrical insulating properties. Typical applications: sauce pan handle. hard and brittle material with good creep resistance.

32 . handles. MF is more costly. etc. harder and has better heat and stain resistance. wall panels. bottle caps. Applications: dinnerware (cups and plates). Applications: buttons. light fixtures. hard. surface coatings.SOME COMMON THERMOSETTING PLASTICS – cont’d (b) Aminos Plastics There are two basic types of amino plastics: (i) Urea-formaldehyde (UF) (ii) Melamine-formaldehyde (MF) UF is low cost. adhesives for furniture. laminated worktop. abrasion resistant. fair chemical resistance and heat resistant to 70oC.

33 . Tough.SOME COMMON THERMOSETTING PLASTICS – cont’d (c) Epoxy Have better chemical and heat resistance than other thermosetting plastics. surface coatings. less shrinkage during curing and better weatherability Used for adhesives. reinforced with fibres for boat hulls and for the repair of defective castings.

Notice: All pictures found in this document were taken from websites for the purpose of education 34 .