Considered one of the most versatile materials in the industry, polymeric compounds are units formed by several “mers”, from the Greek word “meros”, with structural and commercial applications. Moreover, because there are malleable and flexible options, “is polymer a plastic?” is a common question.
Although, the answer is simple: all plastic is a polymer, but not every polymer is plastic. Do you want to know more details about this subject? So, check out the information that we, from Polyexcel, have prepared for you and update your knowledge about polymers!
What are polymers?
Before understanding the difference between polymer vs plastic, it is important to know what the first one is about. That matter is nothing more than a macromolecule formed by monomers, which are smaller structural units. These monomers are united by covalent bonds.
For these concepts to become even clearer, it is important to keep in mind that the mers are the repeated units in a polymer. Monomers are molecules made up of a mer. Thereby, polymers are the materials built by linking several mers.
The production of these materials is done through a process called polymerization. Anyone who knows a little about the polymer industry surely has heard about the degree of polymerization, but what does this mean in practice? This nomenclature refers to the number of mers in a polymer chain.
What is the difference between plastic and polymer?
As previously mentioned, not all polymers are considered plastics, since what makes a macromolecule be considered a polymeric compound are its characteristics. These include: chemical structure, size, and inter and intramolecular interactions, having mers linked by covalent bonds.
Specifying the amount of monomers in the polymerization is common. It can happen with just one monomer, forming a homopolymer, or with two and more, creating a copolymer. The first goes through this process from propene, while the second has the same ingredient with the addition of ethane.
Copolymers can have nonlinear chemical units, which are known as random copolymers. Other recurring alternatives for a well-organized structure are alternating or block copolymers, the latter being an alternator in a sequence of units.
These differences in the ordering of the structures are fundamental for the construction of commercial plastics, as it reflected in the characteristics of the final product. To facilitate the sale, this information is ordinarily presented in the data sheet of the compost and also on the sacks.
By reading the explanation for the question “is polymer a plastic?”, you probably realized that this theme is somewhat complex, also involving other questions, such as “are all polymers plastic?”, for example.
Nevertheless, speaking more clearly, and answering the question “is plastic a polymer or composite?”, we can say that plastic is a polymer suitable for modeling considering it is fluid when heated and only solid at room temperature.
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