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Plastics, in technical terms polymers, are a synthetic material obtained from a component of crude oil. Like metals, ceramics and glass, they are among the most important industrial materials.
Compared to metallic materials in particular, plastics are characterized by their low density (between 0.8 and 2.2 g/cm3). They are considerably lighter than steel (7.85 g/cm3)and have good elasticity and tensile strength. Many plastics are also chemically resistant to inorganic media such as mineral acids, alkalis and aqueous salt solutions. Plastics can be processed at comparatively low temperatures (approx. between 250 and 300°C) and are poor heat and power conductors.
The properties of individual types of plastic can differ greatly from one another. They are dependent on their chemical composition, which is strongly influenced during production by additives such as fillers, plasticizers and color pigments. The production process used also plays an important role in the characteristic properties of a particular plastic.
Germany is the largest producer of plastics in Europe. In 2017, the German plastics industry produced around 19.9 million tons of plastics; according to the Federal Statistical Office, around 380 million tons were produced worldwide in that year. Since 1950, global production of plastics has grown on average by more than 8% per year - thus much more radically than the average global gross domestic product.
Classification of plastics
Plastics are divided into standard plastics, engineering plastics and high-performance plastics. They are usually further classified according to their mechanical and thermal properties in thermoplastics, duromers, and elastomers.
Chemically, thermoplastics -the economically most important group of plastics - are composed of adjacent, linear, partly branched chain molecules. Thermoplastics usually have soft to hard toughness at room temperature, and are meltable and soluble at higher temperatures.
Elastomers are composed of weakly cross-linked chain molecules. At room temperature, they are usually in an elastically soft state.
Duromers are composed of highly cross-linked chain molecules. They are hard at room temperature, neither meltable (they decompose when their decomposition temperature is exceeded) nor soluble and do not swell.
Plastics are produced from natural organic materials (e.g. cellulose, coal, natural gas or crude oil). The most important feedstock for plastics synthesis is crude oil. The first step in the production of plastics is the distillation of crude oil in a refinery, where it is separated into groups (fractions) of hydrocarbons. One of these fractions is naphtha - the most important basic building block for plastics production.
The hydrocarbon compounds ethylene, propylene, and butylene are obtained from naphtha (also known as crude gasoline) by substance conversion ("cracking"). Plastics are then produced (monomers are combined to polymers) using the synthetic processes polymerization, polyadditionor or polycondensation.
The plastics are then processed into various, extremely diverse product forms using a wide variety of manufacturing processes. The four most important manufacturing processes for the manufacture of plastic products are injection molding, extrusion, blow molding. and calendering (rolling).
Plastics can be processed with most of the known processing methods. Among other things, plastics can be cast, formed, machined, welded (thermoplastics only) or glued.
The most important areas of application for plastics are the packaging industry and the construction industry, which account for more than two thirds of the European demand. Growing sectors are vehicle construction and electrical engineering.
Plastics are also used in the furniture industry, agriculture, and medical technology. Plastic products have also become indispensable in everyday life - whether as drinking bottles, window frames, cables, household goods, films, tubes or prostheses.
- Low density (between 0.8 and 2.2 g/cm3)
- Superior elasticity
- Good tensile strength
- Resistant to temperature and heat deformation
- Chemically stable
- Low processing temperatures (between 250 and 300°C)
- Low conductivity for heat and electric current
- Large variety of types and properties
XOM Materials offers thermoplastic materials in the product forms flat bars, round bars, and sheets.
- Thermoplastic flat bars: SUSTARIN C and SUSTADUR PET
- Thermoplastic round bars: SUSTARIN C, SUSTADUR PET, SUSTAMID 6, SUSTAMID 6-MO
- Thermoplastic plates: SUSTAMID 6 G