What is Plastic? Introduction, History, Classification and Uses of Plastics

Plastics became one of the necessary parts of human life. When we wake up in the morning, we start using products of plastics from our toothbrushes to sleeping mats. Plastic is one of the most versatile (malleable) materials in the world. As a result, it can be molded to any shaped products like pipe, bottle, tank, chair, sheet, etc.

What is plastic?

Plastic is a chemical organic compound derived from naturals gas, minerals, coal, but mostly from crude oils or Petrochemicals. Most plastics are synthetic i.e man-made. There are two types of Processes of various chemical reactions by which Plastics are made called Polymerisation and Polycondensation.

What is a Polymer? 

Polymers are the fascinating, indispensable macro-molecules without which the existence of proteins nucleic acid, cells, and finally life is not possible.

Most people assume that plastics and polymers are the same. but I want to clarify that all Plastics are a specific type of polymer. So that we can say every plastic is polymer but every Polymer is not plastic.

Natural Plastics

As you all know that plastics are mostly artificial. But in reality, they are made by mixing many types of natural substances. So we can say that the Materials by which modern artificial plastics are made are called Natural Plastics.

History of Plastics

The early history of human life is classified on the basis of the equipment and other basic requirements they use. Such as – Stone Stone Age, Iron Age, and Bronze Age. But over time man learned to use various objects and systems. For example, the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Babylonia used a range of 8 things i.e metals, stones, wood, porcelain, glasses, skins, horns, and fibers.

In the 19th century also, Most of the things used by humans were also made up of these eight materials.

But in the 19th century, the joining of only two new materials, plastic, and rubber revolutionized human life technically. Without them, the development of mobiles, cars, home appliances, etc. was impossible.

Classification of Solids – 

The below image shows how many types of plastics are found in Solid Materials.

what is plastic

What is plastic made of?

In this process, firstly after the crude oil is extracted from the ground, it is sent for the Distillation Process. Where it is heated and purified at different temperatures. During the refining process, we get different products from this crude oil, which includes petrol, diesel, kerosene, gasoline, naphtha, etc.
Different types of plastics are made from Naphtha obtained in this process. It is a very complex hydrocarbon, which consists of a very long-long chain of carbon.

Types of Plastic

Mainly There are two types of plastics –

  1. Thermoplastics
  2. Thermo-setting Plastics

Thermoplastics are commonly recyclable while Thermoplastics can be used only one time. This is the basic difference between them.

Example of Plastic Materials

People use plastic goods, but do not know about it well. Let us tell you that there are thousands of types of plastic materials found under the ‘Plastics world’, which also have different properties, due to which different types of plastic materials are used in different applications.

For example – PP, HDPE, ABS, PC, PBT, PET, LDPE, PVC, etc.

Advantages of Plastics

  • Plastics are the most versatile material in the world. So it can be molded to any shape. This is the reason why most gadgets and Things it used widely.
  • Plastic materials are very durable. so it can be used easily in most of the things in place of metals.
  • The plastics can be made easily so it is low priced as compared to metals.
  • Plastics changed the life of Humans below the Hundred years of history. So This Material is very useful for us.

Disadvantages of Plastics

Plastics very useful but as u all know everything that is very useful gives some side-effects also. So Its big side-effect is pollution. Because it cannot be damaged easily. Plastics make air pollution when we burn them. Plastics make water pollution when we throw them in water. And also makes soil pollution when we throw it anywhere after using.

Uses of Plastics

I think the biggest use of plastic has been in connecting the whole world through the internet. If the fiber optics cables laid in the sea were of metal, then they would not be able to run in the saltwater of the sea for much longer.

But A brilliant engineer named Walter Lincoln Hawkins invented an especially tough, long-lasting type of plastic that could be used to coat and protect the undersea cables.

Thanks to this use of plastic, people all around the world can talk to one another on telephones and computers. And that’s just one of the thousands of different ways that people use the good side of the plastic.

Do You know How Plastic is Recycled? 

2 thoughts on “What is Plastic? Introduction, History, Classification and Uses of Plastics”

  1. I get a bit twisted here: “but I want to clarify that all polymers are plastic but all plastics are not polymers.”, “The Main Difference between polymers and Plastic is every plastic is polymer but every Polymer is not plastic.”

    • Hi, Niels thanks for your comment. I want to clarify that the sentence “The Main Difference between polymers and Plastic is every plastic is polymer but every Polymer is not plastic.” is correct. but another one is not correct – I have updated the article.


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