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Major Polymer Categories in Chronological Order
Phenol-formaldehyde Plastic (PF); (Phenolic); 1909.
    - Thermoset polycondensate.
- PF is the first volume-produced synthesized polymer resin. It was widely used in early consumer electronic products such as telephones and radios.
- A naturally brittle material in pure form, it is able to be strengthened with fillers such as wood pulp and cellulose.
- Trade Name: Bakelite.
Polystyrene (PS); 1930.
    - Thermoplastic polymer.
- PS is commonly used for inexpensive packaging materials, pens, safety razors, flatware, and CD jewel boxes. In Styrofoam forms, PS is used to make high-throughput, thin-walled, easy-to-mold parts where structure is not paramount.
- It is an inexpensive material that is not structurally strong but easy to mold. It machines well, and is highly transparent.
- Trade Name: Novacor 555.
Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC); 1930's.
    - Thermoplastic polymer.
- It is typically used as one of the components in a copolymer.
- It has high hardness and good abrasion resistance.
- Trade Name: Diofan, Ixan, Saran.
Polyamide (PA); (Nylon); 1935.
    - Thermoplastic polycondensate.
- PA is commonly used to make high-lubricity parts such as bearings, blow moldings molds, and clothing fabrics.
- It has high lubricity and moderate strength. It is tough, inexpensive, but has poor dimensional stability due to water absorption (hygroscopic nature).
- Trade Name: Ultramid, Zytel.
Melamine formaldehyde (MF); 1938.
    - Thermoset polycondensate.
- MF is commonly used in molding compounds and food containers such as bowls and dishes.
- It has high surface hardness and is scratch resistant. It is also highly resistant to creep, heat, moisture, and boiling water. Due to its high shrinkage rate, it is relatively easy to crack in formation.
- Trade Name: Bakelite, Isomin, Melaicar, Melbrite, Melmex, Melopas, Resart, Ultrapas.
Polyvinylchloride (PVC); 1938.
    - Thermoplastic polymer.
- It is commonly used in pipes and fittings, wire and cable insulation, extruded films and sheets, and medical applications.
- Its flexible grades are easy to process; and its rigid grades are low cost and have high dielectric strength, excellent outdoor stability, good chemical resistance, and good moisture stability. Both grades have low heat resistance.
- Trade Name: Geon, Viclon.
Polyethylene (PE); 1939.
    - Thermoplastic polymer.
- PE is the largest volume commodity plastic. It is widely used in blow-molded beverage bottles, auto gas tanks, and extruded pipes.
- It has good toughness at low temperatures and is inexpensive.
- Trade Name: Marlex, Alathon, Hostalen.
Polyurethane (PU); 1940.
    - Thermoplastic or thermoset, (typically reinforced), polyadduct.
- It is often used in automotive structural members, computer housings, furniture, and packaging foams.
- It has high impact resistance, dielectric strength, chemical resistance, and abrasion resistance. It can be made into films, solid moldings, or flexible foams. However, it becomes brittle with prolonged outdoor exposure.
- Trade Name: Estane, Pellanthane.
Polyester; 1942.
    - Thermoplastic or thermoset polycondensate.
- Polyester is very popular in making clothing and handles.
- It has excellent dimensional stability, high dielectric strength, and good toughness. It has moderate chemical resistance, low resistance to strong acids and bases, and is notch sensitive. However, it is not recommended for outdoor use or in hot water.
- Trade Name: Valox, Celanex.
Silicone (SI); 1943.
    - Thermoset polycondensate.
- It is often used in computer chips, IC’s, cooking ware, and food containers.
- It maintains its dimensional stability and good electrical and dielectrical properties over a wide range of frequency and temperature. Other useful properties include good flame resistance, low water absorption, moderate thermal shock resistance, and average polymeric mechanical properties. On the other hand, it is high-cost with limited shelf-life and a long curing time.
- Trade Name: Baysilon, Blu-Sil, Commex, Fiberite, Lamitex, Siltemp, Textolite.
Ethylene vinyl alcohol (E/VAL); 1945.
    - Thermoplastic polymer.
- E/VAL is commonly used in packaging of textiles. E/VAL fluidized powder coatings are used in construction of chemical plants, buildings, steel structures, roads, and offshore engineering. It has a working range from 70 to -40 ºC (158 to -40 ºF).
- Its permeability depends on temperature and humidity. E/VAL films are hydrophilic, crystal clear, and glossy. They do not need special antistatic treatments and have good barrier properties for gases and aromatic materials.
- Trade Name: Clarene, Eval, Levasint, Selar, Soarnol.
Epoxy; 1946.
    - Thermoset polyadduct.
- Epoxy is commonly used in adhesives and reactive molding compounds.
- Epoxy possesses many useful properties: air curable, highly fillable, low shrinkage, low susceptibility to stress formation, good adhesion to almost all materials, high tensile and vibrational strength, high heat resistance, high heat deformation resistance, high chemical attack resistance, good aging properties, good electrical and dielectrical properties, odorless, tasteless, and low flammability.
- Trade Name: Acme, Aerolam, Basoset, Beckopx, Conapoxy, Corlar, Cycom, DER, Desmobond, Dobeckot, Dynopon, Ecco, Epikote, Epocast, Epodite, Eprosin, Eurepox, Exatron, Grilonit, Hysol, Isochembond, Lekutherm, Lopox, Nikalet, Paraplex, Quartrex, Scotchcast, Synthane.
Fluoroplastics (PTFE); (FEP, PFA, CTFE, ECTFE, ETFE); 1950.
    - Thermoplastic polymer.
- PTFE is commonly used in applications needing excellent dielectric strength and chemical and temperature resistance.
- It has low mechanical strength and is expensive. It has very low coefficient of friction.
- Trade Name: Teflon.
Polypropylene (PP); 1950's .
    - Thermoplastic, (crystalline), polymer.
- PP can be used to make medical syringes, beakers, and parts for auto interiors.
- Its key attributes are high lubricity, high resistance to flexing (excellent material for living hinges), excellent dielectric strength and chemical resistance, good impact strength, and high solvent resistance. It is inexpensive and electroplatable, but it is difficult to paint, print on, or bond to. It will be attacked by fuming nitric acid and degraded by UV and ionizing radiation.
- Trade Name: Marlex HGL, Fortilene 1800 series (FDA materials).
Polyimide (PI); 1955.
    - Thermoplastic or thermoset polycondensate.
- PI is commonly used in bearing materials, thrust washers, and semiconductor wafer clamps.
- It has high impact and dielectric strength, high heat resistance (260 ºC continuous, up to 480 ºC intermittent), and a low coefficient of thermal expansion.
- Trade Name: Vespel, Kapton.
Polyacetal (Acetal); 1958.
    - Thermoplastic.
- Acetal is commonly used in quality toy parts, handles, knobs, and bearing parts.
- It is a lubricious, strong, and resistant to creep and fatigue. It has good dimensional stability and relatively high abrasion and chemical resistance.
- Trade Name: Delrin, Ultraform.
Polycarbonate (PC); 1958.
    - Thermoplastic polycondensate.
- PC can be used to make optical lenses, windows, medical items, CD's, and power tool housings. It can also be used in truck cabs.
- It has excellent strength, toughness, dimensional stability, dielectric strength, flame retardancy, and impact resistance (highest among transparent rigid materials). It is, however, susceptible to stress cracking with aromatic solvents, and is difficult to machine.
- Trade Name: Lexan, Makrolon.
Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS); 1960's.
    - Thermoplastic.
- ABS is commonly used in electronic housings, auto parts, consumer products, pipe fittings, waste pipes, computer housings (electroplated on the inside), and automotive interior and exterior trim.
- It is tough, hard and rigid. It has good chemical resistance, dimensional stability, and creep resistance. It is electroplatable and inexpensive. It has moderate mechanical strength but with a tendency to stress crack. Also, it will be degraded (dissolved) when exposed to acetone.
- Trade Name: Cycolac, Lustran.
Polyetheretherketone (PEEK); 1962.
    - Thermoplastic polycondensate.
- PEEK is commonly used to fabricate items used in demanding applications including bearings, piston parts, pumps, compressor plate valves, and cable insulations. It is compatible with ultra-high vacuum applications and medical implants.
- It has high tensile and flexural strength, high impact strength, and a high fatigue limit. It also has a high heat distortion temperature, high chemical resistance, and high radiation resistance. PEEK has good electrical properties, good slip and wear characteristics, and low flammability. Injection-molded PEEK parts usually do not require thermal after-treatment.
- Trade Name: Arotone, Doctalex, Kadel, Mindel, PEEK, Santolite, Staber, Ultrapek, Zyex.
Ionomer; 1964.
    - Thermoplastic polymer.
- Applications of Ionomer range from tough, scratch-resistant golf balls and bowling pin covers to footwear components, glass coatings, abrasion resistant surfaces and buoys. It can be used to replace glass or crystal, and it can also be used as packaging films and sealants.
- It has high impact strength (low temperatures), puncture and abrasion resistance, high melt elasticity, and good thermoforming properties. It also has low sealing temperatures and high sealing seam strength. It is resistant to grease, oil, and solvents.
- Trade Name: Aclyn, Himiran, Coathylene, Surlyn, Escor.
Polybutylene (PB); 1964.
    - Thermoplastic polymer.
- PB can be used to make tubes, sheets, and profile extrusions by extrusion blow molding and/or injection molding.
- It has high flexibility (even at low temperatures), a low embrittlement temperature, high toughness, high abrasion resistance, high resistance to chemical attack, and resistance to hot water and stress cracking. It has poor handling properties in the forms of semi-finished goods and moldings after processing because of the start of crystal rearrangement.
- Trade Name: Shell, Mitsui.
Polyphenylene Oxide (PPO); 1965.
    - Thermoplastic polycondensate.
- PPO is processable by conventional extrusion and injection molding equipment.
- Although it resists many chemicals, it is easily attacked by some hydrocarbons. It has excellent dimensional stability, low moisture absorption, and high mechanical and dielectric strength.
- Trade Name: Ashley.
Polysulfone (PSU); 1965.
    - Thermoplastic polycondensate.
- It is commonly used in electric connectors.
- It is an expensive material. It is electroplatable and has high strength, good toughness, good dielectric strength, and dimensional stability.
- Trade Name: Ultrason.
Polyphenylene Sulfide (PPS); 1973.
    - Thermoplastic polycondensate.
- PPS can be used to make high performance electrical connectors and other high stress parts.
- It has high temperature resistance (230 ºC continuous), low temperature endurance, good chemical resistance, and flame retardance.
- Trade Name: Ryton.
Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP); 1980.
    - Thermoplastic.
- LCP is commonly used in high-performance engineering applications such as electrical connectors and machine parts. It can be used in surgical devices, and some LCP's meet the standards of USP Class VI.
- Although expensive, LCP has excellent strength and good high temperature properties. It can be used in thin wall (as thin as 0.2 mm) applications. LCP parts can withstand vapor phase reflow and autoclaving temperatures of 135 ºC. It has high chemical resistance and is flame retardant. It has very low coefficient of thermal expansion and high tensile modulus (from 10 to 24 GPa).
- Trade Name: Vectra, Xydar.