Materials: Plastic
General information

Besides glass, plastics play a very important role in laboratories. Resistance to breakage and low weight are important advantages of plastics. In general, plastics can be divided into the following three groups:

Elastomers

Thermosets

Thermoplastics

Polymers with loosely cross-linked molecules, exhibiting rubber-like elasticity at room temperature. Heating causes irreversible curing (vulcanization). The most popular Elastomers are natural rubber and silicone rubber.

Polymers with tightly cross-linked molecules are very hard and brittle at room temperature; heating causes irreversible curing. These plastics are rarely used for plastic labware. The best known thermosets are the melamine resins. Melamine resin is produced by polycondensation of melamine with formaldehyde.

Polymers with a linear molecular structure with or without side branches are trans-formed into objects during molding operations without changing their thermoplastic properties. Thermoplastics are the materials commonly used in plastic labware production. Hence we provide here a brief description of some individual plastics explaining their structural, mechanical, chemical and physical properties. The most popular thermoplastics are polyolefins like polyethylene and polypropylene.