There are two main categories of plastic:
The properties and uses of some common thermosoftening plastics are shown in the table below.
|Polyamide (Nylon)||Creamy colour, tough, fairly hard, resists wear, self-lubricating, good resistance to chemicals and machines||Bearings, gear wheels, casings for power tools, hinges for small cupboards, curtain rail fittings and clothing|
|Polymethyl methacrylate (Acrylic)||Stiff, hard but scratches easily, durable, brittle in small sections, good electrical insulator, machines and polishes well||Signs, covers of storage boxes, aircraft canopies and windows, covers for car lights, wash basins and baths|
|Polypropylene||Light, hard but scratches easily, tough, good resistance to chemicals, resists work fatigue||Medical equipment, laboratory equipment, containers with built-in hinges, 'plastic' seats, string, rope, kitchen equipment|
|Polystyrene||Light, hard, stiff, transparent, brittle, with good water resistance||Toys, especially model kits, packaging, 'plastic' boxes and containers|
|Low density polythene (LDPE)||Tough, good resistance to chemicals, flexible, fairly soft, good electrical insulator||Packaging, especially bottles, toys, packaging film and bags|
|High density polythene (HDPE)||Hard, stiff, able to be sterilised||Plastic bottles, tubing, household equipment|
The properties and uses of some common thermosetting plastics are shown in the table below.
|Epoxy resin||Good electrical insulator, hard, brittle unless reinforced, resists chemicals well||Casting and encapsulation, adhesives, bonding of other materials|
|Melamine formaldehyde||Stiff, hard, strong, resists some chemicals and stains||Laminates for work surfaces, electrical insulation, tableware|
|Polyester resin||Laminated, good electrical insulator, resists chemicals well||Casting and encapsulation, bonding of other materials|
|Urea formaldehyde||Stiff, hard, strong, brittle, good electrical insulator||Electrical fittings, handles and control knobs, adhesives|