Technology Drives the World: What Are the 5 Different Types of Industrial Polymers?

Technology Drives the World: What Are the 5 Different Types of Industrial Polymers?

Polymers are important to day to day activities regardless of the type. Over 3/4th of plant body is composed of cellulose, pointing to a very important distribution of molecules. Industrial polymers are different, but retain the same importance in a wide range of properties. There are five main types of industrial polymers to use. For commercial use, these materials have specific advantages.


Polyethylene’s properties are classified as low and high density polyethylene. This thermoplastic polymer is used for packaging or in construction materials. Polyethylene remains one of the most used plastics in the world. Developed in 1950, it is a collaborative effort by scientists Giulio Natta and Karl Ziegler. There is a lot of complexity with polyethylene since it has so many applications. The subtypes of the material are low density, linear low density, high density and ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene. The lower the density, the more flexible the material. Linear low density is less energy intensive, so has advantages over low density polyethylene. Production for both of these types are similar, yet their production and application are completely different.

High density is strong, less flexible and better served as a container. It is used to make cartons, bins, cutting boards and more. The higher the density, the stronger it is. The tradeoff is that you’ll get less flexibility. Ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene is the strongest, and as a result the least flexible. This is the densest version in the subcategory and can be used in defense equipment like bulletproof vests.

Polyvinylchloride (PVC)

The best use for Polyvinylchloride is as an insulator. The high strength of this polymer makes it useful for tough tasks. The material is described as being economical compared to similar choices that contain basic materials built around strength. Despite its toughness, polyvinylchloride is also known for being flexible when needed. That is why it is used in construction, health care, buildings and automobiles. PVC is also known as vinyl, a highly versatile material that has countless uses worldwide.

Vinyl is strong against moisture, so it is the correct choice for windows, fencing, decking, roofing and advanced flooring. The long-lasting qualities of the material makes it the perfect choice for long lasting construction and building applications. Vinyl is naturally efficient, and has been proven to be effective at conserving energy. Projects that decide to go green will find PVC to handle greenhouse gas emissions well under normal conditions.

Medical tubing and IV bags are dependent on vinyl’s strong properties and flexibility to store life saving medicine. PVC blood collection bags can be found in blood banks worldwide. They can also be found in ambulances and most hospitals that need to store medicine in strong, near unbreakable bag.


Synthetic adhesives use a combination of thermoplastics, elastomers, thermosets and emulsions. As a base, these materials give companies the effective polymers to work with. What makes adhesives different from other polymers are some of the requirements. This is another subcategory that contains various rules for certain types of polymer adhesives. Most of them have the same basic function, and involves using a chemical reaction that connects materials together. A good example of polymer adhesives are epoxy, polyurethane and UV acrylates. Many popular adhesives or sealant types are made up of one of the three listed materials. Since adhesives rely on a chemical reaction to be the most effective, a lot of priority is put into which base materials are used.

Stable adhesives are required for tasks when there is a lot of movement. Food packaging that uses adhesives have to go through several checks before being approved. Some patents have improved the base elements so that adhesives work well regardless of temperatures. This is an important feature when moving expensive materials through personal or business means.

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene is valuable since it is resistant to alkalis and acids. The strength of the material makes it useful for industrial fibres, auto parts and several construction related materials. Since the material is a thermoplastic, it is considered an addition polymer. A related use for polypropylene is with packaging for consumer products. Paul Hogan and Robert Banks created polypropylene in 1951, and it was improved by other scientists at a later date. Polypropylene gained massive commercial success early on thanks to its ability to crystalize. The success of the material continues to be impressive, as it remains one of he most produced plastics in the world. The current market demands over 40 trillion metrics tons and is expected to grow by more than ten percent in 2020.

PP can be injected into a living hinge for superior flexibility. These thin pieces of plastic have a range of motion that can sometimes go up to 360 degrees. The flexibility is one benefit, but living hinges are superior for load-bearing applications due to their high durability.

Flame Retardants

Flame retardancy standards and high, and an important material for protection. It works as a thermal barrier when used with combustible materials. Flame retardants have wide professional use by firemen, professional workers and with some personal consumer clothing. Unlike the other polymer types on the list, flame retardants refer to a function rather than a mixture of chemicals. When properly applied, flame retardants prevent fires. At the very least, they limit the areas that fires can spread. Flame retardants are mandatory in some professions, with the grade of the material factoring heavily into its effectiveness. The four major areas that flame retardants are most common include electronics, furnishings, transportation and construction. Their inclusion in all four categories saves countless lives per year.

Wrap Up

Personal and professional needs for polymers extend beyond the basics of bags and pipes. Synthetic polymers are useful in multiple ways when applied to industrial needs. The importance of industrial polymers relies on their specific use and type. With the five listed types above, companies have a robust list of choices for any situation.

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