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Why are Thermoplastics so Important?

Thermoplastics have become a very common sight in modern life, but the majority of people have no idea what they actually are or what they are used for. Even if you have heard the name before, you probably do not know what sets them apart from other types of plastics.

What are Thermoplastics?

Thermoplastics make up around 80% of all the plastics we use in the world at the moment. Made of polymer resins that can be softened by heating them and hardened by cooling them, they are one of the most versatile modern materials we have available and can easily be shaped into components for nearly any project.

The basic idea behind thermoplastics is that they do not get worn down or suffer chemical changes if they are heated and cooled over and over again. As long as the plastic can be recovered, it can be recycled over and over again, making it a great alternative to disposable plastics.

Thermoplastics are one of the most common plastics you will see, so many people do not really distinguish them from the term “plastic.” Most of the time, anything simply called “plastic” will be a thermoplastic product unless specified otherwise.

Why do Thermoplastics Matter?

While many people might assume that thermoplastics are just a kind of recyclable plastic, they can actually have some other specific benefits that make them vital for both individual people and larger companies. Knowing these benefits can make their place in the modern world much more obvious.

Reuse

While recycling plastic is an important part of protecting the climate, it is not the only reason that thermoplastic recycling is so helpful. Waste is often produced in situations where it does not need to be, such as excess materials spilling out of moulds or thermoplastic components failing and having to be scrapped.

Having the option to reuse this waste can be a major boon to companies that are working with smaller profit margins and also allows the materials to be used over and over again. As you might expect, this also reduces the amount of plastic waste that they are producing, too.

Higher Yield

Thanks to the ease of recovering and reusing thermoplastics as raw materials, they can be a higher-yield material overall in terms of price. Even if the initial costs of buying the thermoplastics are higher than other options, less is wasted, and profits are generally going to be slightly higher.

This all depends on how the company uses the thermoplastics, of course, but there are very few situations where a thermoplastic component or product has to be thrown away entirely. If you follow all the right steps, you can eliminate unnecessary thermoplastic material costs almost entirely.

Short-Term Use

Since you can break apart thermoplastic products and reuse the materials in almost all situations, they become a great option for short-term situations such as prototyping another product. If a prototype design is passed on, then it can be deconstructed and recycled into another prototype with ease.

This also applies to niche situations where a single product may need to be produced on short notice and then repurposed later. This could be something like a limited-time promotional item or a bespoke creation that is only related to a specific event.

High Stress

Thermoplastics are surprisingly good at handling tough situations, offering good levels of rigidity and durability that other materials can’t. This makes them a very versatile choice of material that can serve in multiple different roles, all without needing to be permanently mixed into a particular material combination.

This strength comes from their molecular makeup rather than any third-party blends or finishes, meaning that even repeatedly recycled thermoplastics can be surprisingly durable. Regardless of the situation, they can be an option worth having, especially when stress resistance and strength are important factors.

Thinness

The combination of high strength and high flexibility means that thermoplastics tend to offer a perfect balance of both, making them a very reliable option for a range of unique situations. For example, they can be excellent for creating durable bags or carrying cases.

While they can break, the materials can easily be reused, meaning that you do not have to worry about a product permanently breaking. Even if your thermoplastics break, you can just recycle them into something else.

Finished

Thermoplastics are surprisingly good at handling finishes, whether that is custom inks and paints or specialist protective finishes. This allows them to display branding, important customer-facing information, or almost anything else that needs to be printed on the front.

This is not something that all materials can offer, so having this option with thermoset materials is a great benefit. Not only that but they can still be recycled after printing on new designs in most cases, so you are not permanently losing some thermoplastics after inking on some designs.

  • Chemical Resistance

Thermoplastics can often offer a good level of chemical resistance, something that is actually quite rare among similar materials. This can give them some impressive niche uses, such as being a core part of many medical devices and even some protective gear.

Should You Use Thermoplastics?

Whether you are a business owner, an employee, or just a craft hobbyist, thermoplastics can be one of the most versatile options available. They can easily fit into all kinds of niches and offer a range of benefits that other materials can’t, all without needing any specific tweaks to their structure.

However, actually handling thermoplastics can still be tricky without preparing first. Thermoplastic materials require heat to enable them to be manipulated easily, which often means having to dedicate a certain space towards actually moulding them into the shapes that you need.

There are a lot of individual thermoplastic materials out there, and not all of them are identical. Nylon, acrylic, HDPE, LDPE, and countless other options all fall under the same label. It can be really important to narrow down the specific material that you actually want to use since they all have their own benefits and drawbacks.

There is not a single best thermoplastic material out there, so it all depends on why you need them. Take your time and choose some that matches your needs perfectly – the right material can make a tough project much, much easier.

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