There are three very important materials, which are used in processing and very often people are confusing their names. The three materials are: Polymer, Composite and Plastic. Let’s have a look on why these materials are similar and why they are so different?
Let’s start with a polymer.
The polymer is a large particle, in which the same unit (monomer) is repeated over and over.
A composite is a material which is made of two or more materials, which together have very different properties than if they are separately. In the composites used in plastics’ processing the major part is taken by a polymer (which establishes the matrix) and the amount of the other material is adjusted to obtain the desired characteristic.
A plastic is a material based on the polymer and can also contain other materials (called additives), but the addition of the other material does not change the characteristic significantly. Most plastics can contain additives (organic or inorganic) which are blended into the polymer network and their amount can be higher than 50%.
Some polymers used as plastics are: Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polystyrene, Polyesters, Polycarbonate, PVC, Nylon, Poly(methyl methacrylate).
In all the three cases we have to do with the polymer but now we have learned that they are different matters.
Simple, isn’t it?