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What is Thermoplastic?

Posted on: February 18th, 2014 by byersbushblog

Thermoplastic is a form of plastic that is composed of polymer resins.  When heated, a thermoplastic becomes liquid; when cooled, thermoplastic hardens to a solid.

A thermoplastic can also be frozen, which creates a glass-like state, and it can shatter.  One of the things that is particularly interesting about a thermoplastic is that all of these states can be reversed.

A frozen or hardened thermoplastic can be reheated and returned to a liquid state or reshaped.  This also makes thermoplastic easy to recycle and reuse.

The Types

There are many different types of thermoplastics.  Each type differs in density and crystalline organization.

Common forms of thermoplastics include polyurethane, polypropylene, polycarbonate, and acrylic.  The first known thermoplastic was celluloid, which was introduced in the mid-1800s.

Celluloid remained the first choice in thermoplastics for nearly a century, even being used as a substitute for ivory at times.  Currently, celluloid is used primarily to manufacture guitar picks.

It is important to note the difference between thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics.  Although the names are similar, the products are different.

Thermoplastics can be heated until they reach a liquid state or cooled until they reach a solid state.  Thermosetting plastics, on the other hand, cannot withstand being subjected to heat.

If heated, thermosetting plastics will chemically deteriorate.  When cooled, however, thermosetting plastics are actually more durable than thermoplastics.

Some thermoplastics may be considered elastomers, but in general, there are differences between the two categories.

Thermoplastics will typically stretch to a certain point, but they will resist stretching and retain the shape into which they are stretched.  On the other hand, elastomers will bounce back after being stretched.

In some cases, plasticizers are added to the mix to create a pliable thermoplastic.  This method is often used for extrusion of plastic injection molding of thermoplastics.

The Process

A plasticizer functions by lowering the glass transition temperature of a material.  The glass transition temperature is the point when a material either becomes soft when heated or brittle when cooled.

The glass transition temperature is different for each type of thermoplastic; it is affected by the crystalline structure of the thermoplastic.

One can alter the glass transition temperature of a thermoplastic by joining it with a copolymer, such as polystyrene.

In the past, molded thermoplastics tended to crack in extremely cold weather.  The introduction of plasticizers solved that problem.

Thermoplastics are used to manufacture many products that we all encounter every day.  One common variety of thermoplastic is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

ABS is used to make everything from sporting goods to Legos to car parts.  Another thermoplastic, polycarbonate, is used to make CDs, lenses for eyeglasses, and food storage containers.

Polyethylene is perhaps the most ubiquitous of thermoplastics.  You likely encounter it daily in the form of shampoo bottles and plastic shopping bags.

You can learn more about thermoplastic technology by getting in touch with Byers Bush Powder Coating Inc. Our management team has more than 80 years of experience in the industry.  We pride ourselves on exceptional service.

We will get your job done quickly; we guarantee a turnaround time of three days or less.  We don’t just get it done quickly, though.  We get it done right.

We strive for the lowest return rate in the industry, and if you aren’t completely satisfied, we will make it right.

You can count on Byers Bush Powder Coating Inc. to provide quality sandblasting and powder coating services when you need them. Call us right away!

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