Uses of Polymers

Structure, Types and Characteristics of Polymers

The simplest way to understand the term polymer is a beneficial chemical made of many repeating units. A polymer can be a 3-dimensional (3D) network Imagine of a repeating unit joined together left and right, back and front, up and down or it is a 2-dimensional (2D) network Imagine of the repeating units linked together right, left, down, and up in a sheet or a 1-dimensional (1D) network Imagine of a repeating unit linked right and left in a chain. Each unit that repeats is the “-Mer” or has a fundamental unit with “polymer” meaning multiple repeating units. The unit which is repeating are often made of hydrogen and carbon and sometimes nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, sulfur, chlorine, silicon and, phosphorous. This forms a chain, many links or “-mers” are chemically attached or polymerized together. Linking infinite strips of construction paper together to create paper garlands or attached together hundreds of paper clips to make chains, or stringing beads helps you to visualize the polymers. Polymers can occur naturally and can be made to serve particular needs. The polymers that can be manufactured can be 3-dimensional (3D) systems that do not go once formed. Such that these networks are called THERMOSET polymers. Epoxy resins which are used in 2-part adhesives are thermoset plastics. These manufactured polymers can also be a 1-dimensional chain that can be melted. These chains are THERMOPLASTIC polymers and can also be called as LINEAR polymers. The Cups, Plastic bottles, Films, and fibers are thermoplastic plastics.

Polymers are found in nature. The ultimate natural polymers are deoxyribonucleic acid i.e., DNA and the ribonucleic acid i.e., RNA that explain life. Hair, Spider silk, and horn are the protein polymers. A Starch can be a polymer as it has cellulose in wood. We use rubber tree latex and cellulose as a raw material to make fabricated polymeric rubber and plastics. The very first synthetic manufactured plastic was Bakelite, in the year 1909 for telephone casing and the electrical components. The first produced polymeric fiber was Rayon, from cellulose, in the year 1910. Nylon was invented in the year 1935 while trying synthetic spider silk.

Structures of Polymers:

Many general classes of polymers are formed of hydrocarbons, hydrogen, and compounds of carbon. The polymers are exactly made of carbon atoms bonded together, one to the next, into large chains that are called the backbone of the polymer. We can attach one or more other atoms to each carbon atom in the backbone chain. There are polymers that have only carbon and hydrogen atoms. Polyethylene, polybutylene, polystyrene, polypropylene, and polymethylpentene are examples of these polymers. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has a chlorine atom attached to all the carbon backbone. The Teflon has fluorine attached to all the carbon backbone.

Other common produced polymers have backbones that have elements other than carbon. Nylons contain nitrogen atoms in the repeated unit of backbone. Polycarbonates and Polyesters contain an oxygen atom in the backbone. There are also few polymers that, alternatively of having a carbon backbone, have phosphorous or silicon backbone. These are recognized inorganic polymers.

Different types of Polymers:

  • • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is said to be a plastic polymer which is made of monomer vinyl chloride.

  • • The urea-formaldehyde resin is not transparent in nature the plastic which is obtained by heating formaldehyde and urea.

  • • Glyptal is actually made up of monomers ethylene glycol and phthalic acid.

  • • Bakelite can also be called as poly-oxy-benzyl-methylenglycolanhydride that is a plastic which is made up of monomers phenol and aldehyde.

  • The following variables can be used to control when producing a polymer:

  • • The monomer polymerized or can be called the monomers copolymerized.

  • • The reagent that is used to initiate the polymerization reaction.

  • • We can identify an amount of the reagent that can be used to crosslink the polymer chains.

  • • Identify the temperature and pressure at which the polymerization happens.

  • • In which the solvent the monomer is polymerized.

  • The method in which the polymer is collected, that can be produced either a more or less random alignment of the polymer chains and a fabric in which the chains are aligned in a particular direction.

    When you change one or more of these parameters can affect the linearity of this polymer, its average molecular weight, the tactic of side chains on the polymer backbone, and the density of the product.


  • • Polymers are very resistant to chemicals. Consider all the cleaning fluids in your house that are packaged in plastic. Reading the warning labels that explain what happens when the chemical comes in contact with eyes or skin or is ingested will indicate the need for chemical resistance in the plastic packaging. While solvents simply dissolve some plastics, other plastics produce safe, non-breakable packages for aggressive solvents.

  • • Polymers act equally as electrical and thermal insulators. A walk by your house will strengthen this concept, as you consider all the cords, appliances, electrical outlets and wiring that are made or covered with polymeric materials. Thermal resistance is visible in the kitchen with pan and pot handles made of polymers, the coffee pot handles, the foam core of freezers and refrigerators, microwave cookware, insulated cups, and coolers. The thermal undergarments that many skiers wear are made of polypropylene and the fiberfill in winter jackets is acrylic and polyester.

  • • The polymers are very light in mass with important degrees of power. Consider the range of applications, from toys to the frame construction of place locations, or from feeble nylon fiber in pantyhose to Kevlar, which are been used in bulletproof vests. Some polymers float on water while others sink immediately. Still, while being compared to the weight of stone, concrete, steel, copper, or aluminum, all plastics are lightweight substances.

  • • The polymers can be prepared in different ways. Extrusion delivers thin fibers or heavy pipes or films or food bottles. Injection shaping can produce very complex parts or large car body panels. Plastics can be made into drums or be mixed with solvents to become adhesives or paints. Elastomers and some plastics extent and are very flexible. Some plastics are extended in processing to take their shape, such as soft drink bottles. Other polymers can be foamed like polystyrene polyurethane and polyethylene.

  • • The polymers are substances with a seemingly endless range of features and colors. Polymers have many original properties that can be further improved by a deep range of additives to increase their uses and applications. Polymers can be used to produced to mimic cotton, silk, and wool fibers; porcelain and marble; and aluminum and zinc. Polymers can also make possible products that do not easily come from the natural world, such as clean clear sheets and flexible films.

  • The uses of Polymers

  • • Polypropene has a broad range of usage in industries such as stationery, textiles, packaging, plastics, aircraft, construction, rope, toys, etc.

  • • Polystyrene is one of the most common plastic, that is actively used in the packaging industry. Disposable glasses, bottles, toys, containers, trays, and plates, tv cabinets and lids are some of the dairy products used by us are made up of polystyrene. It can also be used as an insulator.

  • • The very important use of polyvinyl chloride is the manufacture of sewage pipes. It can also be used as an insulator in the electric cables.

  • • Polyvinyl chloride is used in furniture and clothing and has recently become famous for the

  • construction for doors and windows. It can be used in vinyl flooring.
  • • Urea-formaldehyde resins are used for making molds, adhesives, laminated sheets, unbreakable containers, etc.

  • • Glyptal is used for making paints, for coating the metals, and lacquers.

  • • Bakelite is used for making electrical appliances such as switches, kitchen products, toys, jewelry, firearms, insulators, computer discs, etc

  • Answer the following question:

  • 1. What are polymers?

  • 2. Write any three characteristics of polymers?

  • 3. Mention the uses of polymers?

  • 4. Write the different types of polymers?

  • Fill in the blanks:

  • 1. These chains are _________ polymers and can also be called as LINEAR polymers. (Ans: THERMOPLASTIC)

  • 2. The _________are very light in mass with important degrees of power. (Ans: polymer)

  • 3. The very important use of ___________ is the manufacture of sewage pipes. (Ans: polyvinyl chloride).