The Complex World of Plastic and How Useful is it to Humanity

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Plastic and plastic polymers are very useful elements that form an important part of our daily lives and are found in nearly every product we use. Manufactured and synthetic polymers scientifically discovered and introduced for consumption usage in the 17th and 18th century. Ever since then they have helped improve the quality of human life by helping humanity in a wide variety of ways. You may be wondering what the difference is between plastic and polymers — and the key distinction is that plastic is a specific type of polymer.

Plastics are comprised of a chain of polymers, where polymers are composed of smaller, uniform molecules. Humans would never have designed and developed a number of everyday products and articles if plastics had not been invented. If we are to ascertain the usage of strong and lightweight plastics, we find that they have contributed immensely in the automobile and aviation industries, making cars and airplanes significantly lighter, thereby cutting down drastically on the total value of energy required to make them operational. Plastic usage in such industries has also led to a reduction in emissions.

What are plastic polymers?

Plastic is not a naturally occurring material in nature which means that they are synthetically produced in laboratories and factories. Polymers usually bind with substances occurring organically in nature and create newer properties and elements. For example, synthetic polymers comprise of collective materials like polyethylene, nylon, and polyester that have a percentage of organic mixtures.

Synthetic polymers combined with organic compounds are found in everyday consumer products like optical devices, adhesives, textiles, automobiles, foams, coatings, medical devices, packaging products, and other things.

plastic polymers

How is plastic made?

The complex compound of plastic is evolved from elements occurring naturally in the world as has been stated before. Organic elements like crude oil, natural gas, cellulose, and salt are a few of the naturally found elements that are used in the production of plastic. Crude oil is a complex mixture of thousands of compounds and needs to be processed before it can be used.

The first step of the production of plastic begins by processing crude oil. In other words, crude oil starts as the base element, which is then technologically separated into segments, divisions, and elements of variable mixtures of hydrocarbons. Each of these elements varies from one another in shape, structure, and size.

The complex mix of chains of hydrocarbons is instrumental in creating polymers, which are of a synthetic nature through twin processes of polymerization and polycondensation. Once these two processes are complete, the polymer chains need to be converted into the finished products. The final product is a result of one of two things: extrusion or injection molding.

Extrusion vs. Injection Molding:

There are several differences between the two, but the first thing to know about the injection molding process is that it uses a die. This is essentially a recreation of the object that you wish to produce, however it takes on the appearance of a container. This container is “injected” with the plastic substance which will then harden and take on the form of the product. Once the cooling is complete, the component will be ejected from the mold.

Manufacturers such as Solex Thermal Science have created processes that make the injection molding process more efficient and inexpensive. Their heat exchanger is capable of handling any relatively free-flowing powder or crystalline bulk solids. This new heat exchanger technology makes it the perfect candidate to heat and cool polymers in an energy efficient manner.

This exchanger heats and cools to uniform temperatures while using up to 90% less energy. Controlling the temperature of the polymer is an important step in maintaining product quality and ensuring a consistent capacity. In comparison to traditional technologies, such as the drum dryer, which uses a large quantity of hot air to direct dry the product, this solution separates the heat transfer and moisture removal components, significantly reducing energy consumption.

Extrusion uses a different process as it also uses a die, but in a completely different manner. During the extrusion molding process, the plastic material is melted and placed into the die under pressure. In this case, however, the die will eject the material and it will take on the form of said die. This is done in a continuous manner and is sometimes considered to be a bit faster than standard injection molding.

How It Shapes Up:

Once these processes are complete, the purpose of the plastic is then determined. It takes its permanent shape or form and is transferred to its final destination.

In the end, all plastic production processes take the same steps but some may be more time and cost efficient. The key is to look for agents in the plastics supply chain that provide optimal heating and cooling solutions using cutting-edge, energy-efficient technology.

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