Information Centre

Here you can learn more about the plastics

How PVC is made?

Plastics are derived from organic products. The materials used in the production of plastics are natural products such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and, of course, crude oil.Crude oil is a complex mixture of thousands of compounds. To become useful, it must be processed.

The production of plastic begins with a distillation process in an oil refinery

The distillation process involves the separation of heavy crude oil into lighter groups called fractions. Each fraction is a mixture of hydrocarbon chains (chemical compounds made up of carbon and hydrogen), which differ in terms of the size and structure of their molecules. One of these fractions, naphtha, is the crucial element for the production of plastics.

The two major processes used to produce plastics are called polymerisation and polycondensation, and they both require specific catalysts. In a polymerisation reactor, monomers like ethylene and propylene are linked together to form long polymers chains. Each polymer has its own properties, structure and size depending on the various types of basic monomers used.

There are many different types of plastics, and they can be grouped into two main polymer families:

Thermoplastics (which soften on heating and then harden again on cooling)
Thermosets (which never soften when they have been moulded)

Examples of Thermoplastics

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – ABS
Polycarbonate - PC
Polyethylene - PE
Polyethylene terephthalate - PET
Poly(vinyl chloride) - PVC
Poly(methyl methacrylate) - PMMA
Polypropylene - PP
Polystyrene - PS
Expanded Polystyrene - EPS

Examples of Thermosets

Epoxide (EP)
Phenol-formaldehyde (PF)
Polyurethane (PUR)
Polytetrafluoroethylene - PTFE
Unsaturated polyester resins (UP)

Types and categories of plastics

Bio-based plastics

Bio-based plastics currently make up an insignificant portion of total world production of plastics. Commercial manufacturing processes are expensive. However, improvements in metabolic and genetic engineering have produced strains of microbes and plants that may significantly improve yields and production capabilities while reducing overall costs. These factors, when added to increasing oil prices and growing environmental awareness, may expand the market for bio-based plastics in the future.

Biodegradable plastics

Biodegradable plastics are plastics that are capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.

Two basic classes of biodegradable plastics exist:

Bioplastics, whose components are derived from renewable raw materials
Plastics made from petrochemicals with biodegradable additives which enhance biodegradation

Engineering plastics

Engineering Thermoplastics are a subset of plastic materials that are used in applications generally requiring higher performance in the areas of heat resistance, chemical resistance, impact, fire retardancy or mechanical strength.
Engineering Thermoplastics are so named as they have properties in one or more areas that exhibit higher performance than commodity materials and are suitable for applications that require engineering to design parts that perform in their intended use.

Elastomers

Elastomers are useful and diverse substances that easily form various rubbery shapes.
Many industries rely on parts made from elastomers, especially:
automobiles
sports
electronics
assembly line factories

Epoxy resins

The applications for epoxy-based materials are extensive and include coatings, adhesives and composite materials such as those using carbon fiber and fiberglass reinforcements. The chemistry of epoxies and the range of commercially available variations allows cure polymers to be produced with a very broad range of properties. In general, epoxies are known for their excellent adhesion, chemical and heat resistance, good-to-excellent mechanical properties and very good electrical insulating properties. Many properties of epoxies can be modified (for example silver-filled epoxies with good electrical conductivity are available, although epoxies are typically electrically insulating). Variations offering high thermal insulation, or thermal conductivity combined with high electrical resistance for electronics applications, are available.

Expanded polystyrene

EPS is among the biggest commodity polymers produced in the world. EPS is a solid foam with a unique combination of characteristics, like lightness, insulation properties, durability and an excellent processability. EPS is used in many applications like thermal insulation board in buildings, packaging, cushioning of valuable goods and food packaging.

Fluoropolymers

Fluoropolymers are used in harsh environments where their chemical resistance has made them very useful in the many industrial processes such as linings for vessels and piping, fly ash collector bags, gasket packing, semiconductor equipment, carrier materials, chemical tanks and as packing for lithium-ion batteries.

Polyolefins

Polyolefins are produced from oil or natural gas by a process of polymerisation, where short chains of chemicals (monomers) are joined in the presence of a catalyst to make long chains (polymers). Polymers are solid thermoplastics that can be processed in two ways – by film extrusion or moulding. During film extrusion the polymer is heated and forced, in a molten state, through a die to produce thick sheet, thin film or fibres. The thickness of the film can be varied to produce anything from lightweight food packaging wrap to much heavier film for agricultural use. The moulding process involves heating and compressing the polymer in an extruder, and then forcing it into a mould where it solidifies into the required shape.

Polyethylene teraphtalate

If you ever had fizzy drink, water or fruit juice from a plastic bottle then more than likely the bottle is made of PET, or polyethylene terephthalate. PET is one of the most commonly used plastics in Europe’s packaging industry for several reasons. It is very strong, it can withstand high pressures and being dropped without bursting. It has excellent gas barrier properties, so it keeps the fizz in fizzy drinks, and protects the taste of the drinks in the bottles.

Polystyrene

Polystyrene (PS) is a synthetic aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid petrochemical. Polystyrene can be rigid or foamed. General purpose polystyrene is clear, hard and brittle. It is a very inexpensive resin per unit weight. It is a rather poor barrier to oxygen and water vapor and has relatively low melting point. Polystyrene can be naturally transparent, but can be colored with colorants.

Polyurethanes

Not only are polyurethanes affordable and safe, they are also sustainable materials offering added comfort and protection to our everyday lives. 
Polyurethane preserve the Earth’s natural resources by reducing the need for energy.
Polyurethanes make our lives more comfortable, from the relaxation provided by foams in furniture and bedding, to the insulation that regulates temperature inside buildings.  In cars their cushioning properties help protect drivers and passengers in case of collision.

The material’s enormous adaptability and availability, not to mention affordability and recyclability, make it a material of choice for many manufacturers.

Polyvinyl chloride

PVC’s combination of properties enables it to deliver performance advantages that are hard to match. This material is durable and light, strong, fire resistant, with excellent insulating properties and low permeability. By varying the use of additives in the manufacturing of PVC products, features such as strength, rigidity, colour and transparency can be adjusted to meet most applications.

Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics are defined as polymers that can be melted and recast for different use almost indefinitely. 
Thermoplastics have the simplest molecular structure, with chemically independent macromolecules.
By heating, they are softened or melted, then shaped, formed , welded, and solidified when cooled. 
Multiple cycles of heating and cooling can be repeated without severe damage, allowing reprocessing and recycling. 

Thermosets

Thermosetting plastics retain their strength and shape even when heated. This makes thermosetting plastics well-suited to the production of permanent components and large, solid shapes. Additionally, these components have excellent strength attributes and will not become weaker when the temperature increases. 

Each type of thermosetting plastic has a unique set of properties. Epoxies, for example, exhibit elasticity and exceptional chemical resistance, and are relatively easy to cure. Phenolics, while fairly simple to mold, are brittle, strong and hard. Because of their wide range of characteristics, thermosetting plastics find use in an extensive variety of applications, from electrical insulators to car bodies.

Learning about PVC

Take a look around you! Chances are that you will find at least one thing made of Poly Vinyl Chloride(PVC) material. Plastics are used everywhere these days. They help to make our lives easier, safer, more convenient, and more enjoyable. PVC  provide an environmentally sound and cost-effective solution for many design challenges and technology breakthroughs. Think about the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, and how we travel. Think also about our leisure pursuits, the televisions we watch, the computers we use and the CDs we listen to. Whether we are shopping in a supermarket, having major surgery or merely brushing our teeth,  are part of our lives!

PVC in your life!

From electrical appliances, to medical equipment, packaging, automobiles and space travel, pvc are an essential part of our lives. Why? Because polymers  are versatile, lightweight, safe, durable, and cost efficient!

Versatile!

PVC can be formed into an enormous variety of complex shapes and facilitate design solutions in thousands of applications. They are rigid or flexible, solid or porous. Just think of the difference between a telephone, a bottle and a plastics bag to see the sort of variety that exists.

Lightweight!

Compared with other materials pvc’s are very light.
This provides a number of advantages:  
Less raw material consumed
Less energy in production
Easier handling/carrying
Less fuel in transport
Less air pollution in transport

Safe!

Plastics provide hygienic and protective solutions. Although they are lightweight, plastics are also extremely strong, which means they can be used in the most demanding of situations. As they are shatterproof and can be made almost unbreakable, plastics are widely used in areas where safety is of utmost importance - e.g. food and drink packaging and healthcare. Many of the new safety features in modern cars rely heavily on plastics.

Durable!

Plastics provide durable and tough solutions. They do not corrode or decompose with the passage of time. Durability and weather resistance means they are ideal for long-life applications like building and construction, keeping maintenance to a minimum - e.g. exterior or underground cables and pipes. Plastics can absorb impact through knocks and bumps, making them ideal for the exterior parts of lighter cars. The use of engineering plastics has become essential in many critical automotive applications.

Cost efficient!

Plastics reduce production and supply-chain costs in several ways. They reduce energy used in manufacture and enable complex shapes to replace multi-components assemblies. High-speed form-fill-seal packaging lines increase factory throughputs and avoid wasteful operations such as moving empty containers. Plastics' light weight reduces fuel consumption during transport.