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Commercially Important Polymers

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Commercially Important Polymers - Lesson Summary

Commercially important polymers include polycarbonates, polyvinyl chloride, glyptal, polypropene, polystyrene, urea-formaldehyde polymers, Bakelite and polyurethanes.

Polycarbonates are a group of polymers named for the carbonate groups holding the repeating units together in their backbone chain. These are thermoplastic polymers. Most common polycarbonate is made from bis phenol A or BPA (di phenol) and carbonic acid.

Polycarbonates have high impact resistance. They are transparent, but they can scratch easily if not coated. Therefore, they are useful for spectacle lenses, compact discs, bottles and shatter-proof windows.

Polyvinyl chloride (or) PVC is obtained from the free-radical polymerisation of vinyl chloride.

PVC is resistant to water and fire. It is used to make shower curtains, raincoats, pipes for plumbing, vinyl siding for houses, flooring and electrical insulation.

Glyptal is a condensation polymer formed from phthalic acid and glycerol (or) phthalic acid and ethylene glycol.

Glyptal is a polyester that can form cross-links. Cross-linked glyptal is a thermosetting polymer. It is used in the manufacture of paints, lacquers and resins.

Polypropene is an addition polymer of propene.

It is used in the manufacture of medical equipment, laboratory equipment, electronic equipment and automotive components and also used to make ropes, toys, pipes, fibres...etc

Polystyrene is a homo-polymer of styrene.

It is used in the manufacture of toys, radio and television cabinets, plastic cups, packaging and food containers. It is also used as an insulator.

Urea-formaldehyde polymers are formed from the condensation reaction between urea and formaldehyde.

Urea-formaldehyde polymers are used for making unbreakable cups and laminated sheets.

Bakelite, a phenol-formaldehyde polymer is another commercially important condensation polymer.

Bakelite is used to make combs, phonograph records, electrical switches, utensil handles and computer discs.

Polyurethanes are a class of polymers with a urethane linkage. These are made from a di-isocyanate and a di-hydroxy alcohol. Polyurethanes are very versatile polymers. Their many forms include foams, elastomers and fibres.


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