Two examples of polymers are polypropylene, or PP, a compound used in the carpet and upholstery industry, and polyethylene low density, or LDPE, a compound found in grocery bags. Polymers are compounds whose molecules are connected together in repeating chains.
Polymers may be used in several other practical applications, such as detergent bottles, pipes, decks and toys. Polymers are also found in nonstick pans, electrical insulation, face shields, paints and wetsuits. The act of making a polymer consists of connecting the small units, which are known as monomers, together.
Polymers have several properties that make them suitable for industrial uses. They can be impact-resistant, elastic, soft, tough and brittle. They can also be reflective, translucent, inelastic and have insulating properties. Polymers can be man-made or exist naturally.
Rubber is one example of a polymer that exists in nature. It is valuable for its malleable properties. Polymers are extensively used in the plastics industry. Polymers in the plastics industry are not cross-linked but can be broken and reformed again. When this is the case, they are often referred to as resins.
Polymers are created in one of two methods: step-growth and chain-growth. Step-growth involves the molecules of monomers bonding directly to one another. In chain-growth, the monomer molecules are individually added to the chain.