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What are the main properties of plastic?

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Quick Answer

Some properties of plastics include their light weight, high resistance to various chemicals, thermal and electrical insulation and their wide range of colors, characteristics and potential uses. Plastics are also known as polymers.

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The polymers polyethylene, polypropylene, polybutylene, polystyrene and polymethylpentene are made up of only carbon and hydrogen items. Polyvinyl chloride has carbon and chlorine as its backbone. Teflon has fluorine and carbon as its backbone. Silly Putty is a famous silicon-based polymer. Any polymers with a silicon or phosphorous backbone are considered inorganic polymers.

Linear polymers that lack specific order or are amorphous are arranged in a similar fashion to the way that spaghetti noodles look on a plate. These polymers have an amorphous arrangement of molecules, which means that there is no long-range order or form that the polymer chains arrange themselves in. Amorphous polymers are also typically transparent. Common amorphous polymers are food wrap, plastic windows, contact lenses and headlight lenses.

Scientists and engineers often manipulate the molecular structure of the polymer in order to produce more useful materials. By manipulating the molecular structure, scientists and engineers can create different product possibilities. Common molecular structure manipulations include introducing fillers, reinforcements and additives. Most of the polymers that are manufactured are thermoplastic, which means that once the polymer has formed it can be reformed repeatedly through reheating techniques.

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