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A thermoplastic is any material that can be heated and cooled a number of times. Some common thermoplastics are polystyrene , polyethylene, the acrylics, the polyvinyl plastics , and polymeric derivatives of cellulose. Thermoplastics are attractive commercial and industrial materials because they can be molded, shaped, extruded, and otherwise formed while they are molten. A few of the products made from thermoplastics are bottles, bags, toys, packing materials, food wrap, adhesives, yarns, and electrical insulation. The ability to be reshaped is also an environmental benefit. Waste thermoplastics can be separated from other solid wastes and recycled by reforming them into new products.

See also Recyclables; Recycling; Solid waste; Solid waste recycling and recovery; Solid waste volume reduction

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ther·mo·plas·tic / ˌ[unvoicedth]ərməˈplastik/ Chem. • adj. denoting substances (esp. synthetic resins) that become plastic on heating and harden on cooling and are able to repeat these processes. Often contrasted with thermosetting. • n. (usu. thermoplastics) a substance of this kind.

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thermoplastics, materials that soften or melt when heated and harden when cooled. Thermoplastic polymers consist of long polymer molecules that are not linked to each other. i.e., have no cross-links. They are often supplied as granules and heated to permit fabrication by methods such as molding or extrusion. Thermoplastics include polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyester, polyvinyl chloride, acrylics, nylons, spandex-type polyurethanes, and cellulosics.