Skip to content
Related Articles

Related Articles

Improve Article
Save Article
Like Article

What is Plastic?

  • Last Updated : 14 Jul, 2021

The time we wake up we start our daily work like brushing, making our breakfast, bathing, combing our hair, packing our lunch box and bottle and the list goes on. But, have you realised one thing, these all chores have one thing common and that is plastic, whether our toothbrush, comb, bucket, and even our lunch box and a water bottle are all made up of plastic. So, we realize we are surrounded by plastic but do we know what is plastic? How it is made? What are the types of plastic? Well, we will find answers to all these questions in this article.

Plastic 

The term plastic was derived from the Greek word ‘Plastikos’ meaning – that can be easily moulded or shaped. In the year 1846, Plastic was first discovered by the famous German chemist name Christian Schonbein. Now, let’s define Plastics, so they are a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that has polymers as the main constituent. We can also define Plastic as polymers of long carbon chains. We have discussed that how much we all are surrounded by Plastic, but all plastics are not the same. 

Observe the handle of the frying pan and plastic water bottle if you keep both of them in front of heat then you will realise that the bottle starts melting whereas the panhandle just gets warm. Now, both are made of plastics, still, both are showing different properties. So, this is happening as both materials are made of different types of plastic: Thermosetting and thermoplastic respectively.

Types of Plastic

Based on physical properties, plastics can be classified into two types: Thermoplastic and Thermosetting Plastics. Let’s discuss each of them:

Thermoplastic

There are some plastics that get soft when they are heated and get hard again when they are cooled, like the water bottle which get melted in front of the heat. So this kind of plastic known as Thermoplastic. Thus, Thermoplastics, are plastics that can be moulded easily upon heating. Thermoplastic is also called ‘thermosoftening’ plastics as they easily get soften upon heating. So, we used thermoplastic for making goods that do not get heated and flexible for use.  

Polyvinyl chloride(PVC), and polythene are some good examples of Thermoplastic. 

In our daily use, we all use Thermoplastic articles like toys, combs, brushes, water bottles etc. Also, we use Thermoplastic for making insulation of electric wires and cables as plastics are bad conductors of heat, as well as Thermoplastic can be easily bent or flexible.

Thermosetting Plastics

So, these types of plastic totally different from Thermoplastic. Thus, plastics that do not get soft when they are heated are called Thermosetting plastic, or Thermosetting are plastics that cannot be moulded easily upon heating. So, thermosetting plastic cannot be remoulded later, we can say it is permanent plastic. Thermosetting Plastics also called thermosets. Thus, we can conclude that thermosetting plastics are hard and rigid, they can not be bent (not flexible).

Bakelite and Melamine are some examples of Thermosetting Plastics.

Thus, we used Thermosetting Plastics for making goods that do not get moulded when they get heated during use and are hard and rigid. In our daily life, we use Thermosetting Plastics for making floor tiles, electrical fittings (such as electric switches, plugs and sockets), ballpoint pens and telephones, etc.

Useful Properties of Plastics

We all have heard necessity is the mother of invention that means if we need something very essential, then we are forced to find a way of getting it. Plastic is one kind. It has some advantages which replace old materials made up of jute, wood, metals etc. Let’s discuss each of them:

Plastic is a poor conductor of heat and electricity

Plastics are insulators as they do not conduct heat and electricity. For example, we use plastic for making frying panhandles as it does not conduct heat. Also, plastics are used for making insulation of electric wires and cables as plastics are bad conductors of heat.

Plastics can be moulded into different shapes

As Plastics can be moulded we can make many things by using plastics. If we observe our surroundings then we can notice that we all are surrounded by plastics our basic things to things which are not useful like decorating things are all made of plastic. Lunch box, utensils, stationery, electric appliances, toothbrushes and the list is endless.

Plastics are unreactive

Unlike metals, Plastics do not react. We have seen how an iron get corroded in the presence of oxygen and moisture. But, plastics do not react with water or oxygen, and it is also unreactive with many chemicals. Due to this property, many chemicals (which do not react with plastics) are stored in plastic containers.

Plastics cost less and easily made

Plastic is very less expensive than metals and other materials. Also, it can be made more easily than other materials like metals. This is the reason plastic is very popular among the masses as everyone can afford things made up of plastic. Today, our household and kitchenware are all made up of plastics.

Plastic is light in weight and durable in nature

Unlike metals, plastic is very less in weight, also it is very durable in nature. Due to this property, people preferred plastics for storing things and all.

Sample Questions

Question 1: Define Plastic and give some examples of plastic.

Answer:

Plastics are a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that has polymers as the main constituent. We can also define Plastic as polymers of long carbon chains. For example polythene bags, toothbrushes, combs are all made up of plastics.

Question 2: Why electric wires coated with thermoplastics?

Answer:

Thermoplastic is used for making insulation of electric wires and cables as plastics are bad conductors of heat, as well as Thermoplastic can be easily bent or flexible.

Question 3: Why frying pan handles are made of thermosetting plastics? 

Answer:

Thermosetting Plastics is used for making frying panhandles as we all know thermosetting won’t get moulded in the presence of heat. So when we cook food in the pan then the handle does not get moulded.

Question 4: What are thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics?

Answer:

Thermoplastics are plastics that can be moulded easily upon heating. Thermoplastic is also called ‘thermosoftening’ plastics as they are easily get soften upon heating. So, we used thermoplastic for making goods that do not get heated and flexible for use. Polyvinyl chloride  (PVC), and polythene are some good examples of Thermoplastic. Thermosetting plastic cannot be remoulded later, we can say it is permanent plastic. Thermosetting Plastics also called thermosets. Thus, we can conclude that thermosetting plastics are hard and rigid, they can not be bend (not flexible). Bakelite and Melamine are some examples of Thermosetting Plastics.

Question 5: Give at least 3 usages of Plastics.

Answer:

Following are some usage of Plastics:-

Plastics can be moulded into different shapes- As Plastics can be moulded we can many things by using plastics. If we observe our surroundings then we can notice that we all are surrounded by plastics our basic things to things which are not useful like decorating things are all made of plastic. Lunch box, utensils, stationery, electric appliances, toothbrushes and the list is endless.

Plastics are unreactive- Unlike metals, Plastics do not react. We have seen how an iron get corroded in the presence of oxygen and moisture. But, plastics do not react with water or oxygen, and it is also unreactive with many chemicals. Due to this property, many chemicals (which do not react with plastics) are stored in plastic containers.

Plastics cost less and easily made- Plastic is very less expensive than metals and other materials. Also, it can be made more easily than other materials like metals. This is the reason plastic is very popular among the masses as everyone can afford things made up of plastic. Today, our household and kitchenware are all made up of plastics.

My Personal Notes arrow_drop_up
Recommended Articles
Page :

Start Your Coding Journey Now!