Typically, the term “plastic” will bring to mind a clear, flexible material used for the packaging of food and for other disposable applications. Plastic uses are often thought to extend only to throw-away soda bottles and cellophane wrappers.
Today, however we are beginning to enjoy a new generation of plastics with a much broader spectrum of applications. Plastics are now noted for their structural strength and lasting durability as well as for being a lightweight alternative to most metals.
Polypropylene - A Modern Material
Leading the way to this exciting revolution in plastics technology is polypropylene, a strong and yet lightweight material with a variety of industrial automotive and everyday uses. This space age material is stronger and more durable than many other resin compounds and is considered the lightest among all major plastics.
With an extremely low specific gravity, polypropylene has enabled many durable goods to become portable. Personal computers and hand-held calculators have become possible through the advent of polypropylene and similar plastics.
Resistant to Chemicals and Decay
Breaking away from the plastics’ stereotype of being disposable polypropylene is an extremely durable material. Unlike concrete and steel, polypropylene will not wear away over time and does not rust or react in any way with water, acid, detergents or nonoxidizing organic compounds. This chemical resistance insures the reliability of polypropylene’s strength; making it a plastic you can count on year after year.
Ninety percent of the automotive storage battery cases now being produced are constructed out of this chemically resistant plastic. Other uses of polypropylene include window shutters automotive parts and accessories and many medical instruments including those with radiation resistant applications.
Three Times Stronger Than Steel
Although polypropylene is lightweight, it also represents a surprising amount of strength and durability. On a pound per pound basis, products made with polypropylene are about three times stronger than those made with steel.
Withstanding more than 4,000 pounds of pressure per square inch polypropylene in now replacing many metals as well as concrete, as a preferred structural material.
Looking to the Future
With the continual refinement of our plastics technology polypropylene and similar plastics are rapidly becoming the metals of the future.
The lightweight properties and sheer strength of this new generation of plastics help to meet the needs of our growing technological society, making durable and yet portable goods possible.
Steel, concrete and other structural materials are becoming more and more obsolete as the variety of polypropylene applications continues to expand. The path of the future will depend on plastics like polypropylene which can be produced at lower cost with even greater product capabilities.