Contents

  • History of plastics
    • Introduction

      John Wesley Hyatt is credited with inventing the first plastic in 1868....

    • Polymers

      Plastics are polymers. What is a polymer? The most simple definition of a polymer is something made of many units. Think of a polymer as a chain. Each link of the chain is the "...

    • Environment

      Because of the durable nature of plastics - they last a long time,  the impact on the environment is a concern. Plastic does not easily decompose ...

    • Where Plastics Come From

      Most modern plastics are derived from petroleum.   ...

    • How does oil become a plastic?

      Most modern plastics are derived from petroleum.  Taken from the ground in the form of crude oil.  It is sent to refineries. ...

    • Renewable plastics

      Plastics (bioplastics) can also be made from renewable sources.  Many of these are plants such as wood fiber (cellulose), castor beans, corn and soy.   ...

  • Plastic production
    • Types of plastic

      Plastics can be divided into two major categories:  Thermoset or thermosetting plastics. Once cooled and hardened, these plastics retain their shapes and cannot return to their original form. They are hard a...

    • Plastic production - "thermosets"

      ​​ Glass re-inforced Plastic (GRP), often referred to as fiberglass is made by saturating selected layers i of fiberglass with a catalyzed plastic resin.  The result is a strong, impact resistant shape, New ...

    • Plastic production - "thermoplastic"

      Thermoplastics are made from a single type of plastic for...

  • Forming & finishing plastics
    • Forming

      Many plastics can be cut using woodworking equipment -​ ​ ​Sawing - ...

    • Heat methods (thermo-forming)

      Thermoplastics can be shaped by using heat - Strip heater -  ...

    • Joining with glue

      Many plastics can be joined with adhesives (glue). The glue must be suitable for the type of plastic.  Called solvent adhesives, they work by melting the plastic and welding the surfaces together. Acrylic (Plexiglass...

    • Finishing plastic

      Finished edges of plastic products need rounded corners and should be polished. Edges are easily smoothed with abrasives. ​Sanding can be done by hand -  ...

    • Identifying plastic

      Plastics can be difficult to identify.  Colours, hardness, transparency and density vary widely.  Thermo-sets tend to be stiff, hard and heat resistant. Thermo-plastics are often flexible. Denser plastics sink, however w...

  • Careers in plastic technology