Use of material properties in commercial products

There are many commercial products used on a daily basis that are made from plastic polymer.

Injection moulded plastic seating can be made from a variety of different polymers. A popular chair, called the ‘polyside’ chair, was designed by Robin Day and launched in 1963. It was the first to be injection moulded from a single piece of polypropylene and is a design icon, having been copied in many forms since. It is still in production in some form today.

An orange plastic office chair with black legs on a white background.

When making chairs, a polymer is a good choice of material:

  • they can be injection moulded in mass
  • the colours can be changed
  • the identically duplicated shape means the chairs can often be stacked
  • they are light in weight
  • they are easy to clean
A British double electrical plug socket with one of the plugs switched on.

Electrical plugs and sockets are made from compression moulded polymers, specifically from a thermosetting polymer called urea formaldehyde:

  • it can be compression moulded in mass
  • it is an excellent insulator to electricity
  • it absorbs very little water
  • it has a hard outer, high-gloss finish
  • it is resistant to heat

Urea formaldehyde is also used as the adhesive to band particles together when medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is made.