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Common Types of Plastic in science industry

What is Plastic?

Plastics are organic polymers that are of high molecular mass. They are relatively low cost, easy to manufacture, impervious to water, synthetic, and commonly made from petrochemicals. Some of the most commonly used application of plastics that we see in our daily lives includes containment for liquid and solids, outdoor furniture, pipes, and cutlery. Plastics are also used in industries such as the science lab where you will see plastic beakers, flasks, cylinders, etc.

So what exactly is plastic?

Plastic are produced by the conversion of natural products or through synthesis from primary chemicals that comes from oil, natural gas, or coal. Most plastics are based on the carbon atom. The carbon atom links other atoms with up to four chemical bonds. The carbon atoms are connected to hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, or sulfur. When the connections of the atoms results in a long chain, the polymer call thermoplastic is formed. Some of the plastics used in the science industry includes Polypropylene, Polyethylene, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, High and Low-density Polyethylene, and Polytetrafluoroethylene.

Click here for the plastics chemical resistance chart

Polypropylene

Also known as PP, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications. It’s rugged and unusually resistant to many chemical solvents, bases and acids makes it a very popular material for products, not to mention that polypropylene can be made translucent when uncolored. PP is suitable for packaging and labeling, especially for laboratory equipment since it is autoclavable.

Polyethylene

Also known as PE, is the world most widely produced synthetic plastic. With an annual global production of nearly 80 million tonnes. PE however is limited by its low melting point which is at 80°C. However, there are commercial grade PE, the High and low density PE (HDPE/LDPE). Ranging from 120-180°C for HDPE and 105-115°C for LDPE. Some lab products includes beakers, bottles, and cylinders.

Polytetrafluoroethylene

Also known as PTFE or Teflon, has a high heat and chemical resistance. Making it a very suitable material for products to be used in the science industry. However PTFE usually comes in a white solid color. Making it not suitable for certain types of researches or usage. Some of the products that are PTFE includes Stir bars that are PTFE-coated, or PTFE beakers, crucibles, etc.