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What Is a Polymer?

What Is a Polymer?

Take a look around you, and you’ll see that you’re surrounded by polymers. Whether it’s the clothes you’re wearing, the items you’re using, or even the hair on your body, there are no avoiding polymers, as our world’s full of them.

The term might sound scary or strange, but it’s actually not a huge deal.

So what is a polymer? And how is it used in our lives? Read on to find out!

What Is a Polymer?

A polymer is anything that has repeating macromolecules, which are large molecules. They’re joined together in long chains. As you can see, that’s a pretty broad term!

There are 2 main types of polymers: natural and synthetic (manmade). Other subtypes include semi-synthetic, linear, cross-linked, and branched-chain.

Today, most people associate the term “polymer” with plastics and composites; it’s often used as a synonym for resin and plastic. But as you can infer from the above definition, polymers are so much more than that.

Properties of Polymers

As we’ve mentioned above, polymers are made up of repeating chains of macromolecules. But what other properties do they have?

The properties can be vastly differing, but some common ones include:

  • Elasticity
  • Reflectivity
  • Brittleness
  • Ductility
  • Translucence
  • Impact resistance

Based on what manufacturers hope to achieve, they can pick the right polymer and then tweak them for its advantageous properties.

Applications for Polymers

For natural polymers, there are some you won’t have to do anything to find or use them. Some examples of natural polymers include your DNA, proteins, hair, and nails.

Another great example of a natural polymer is rubber. This is a material we’ve used for thousands of years and it has many applications, such as in tires, rubber bands, and shoes.

There’s also shellac, which is a resin. This can be made into a polymer coating for painting.

Plants have a polymer called cellulose. We’ve harnessed this polymer to make things like cellophane and paper.

Other natural polymers include cotton, wool, and silk, all of which have been leveraged since early human history.

Synthetic Polymers

As for synthetic polymers, the possibilities are endless.

A popular synthetic polymer is a polyethylene, the most commonly used type of plastic. You’ll find it in your shopping bags and storage containers.

Another popular synthetic polymer is polystyrene or styrofoam. This is used for disposable cups and packing peanuts.

For more examples of synthetic polymers, check out https://www.intechpower.com/.

Appreciate the Polymers in Your Life

Now you know the answer to the question, “what is a polymer?”

As you can see, polymers are much more than just plastics and composites. You’ll find them in clothes, toys, and even in your own body.

So the next time you do something, take a moment to appreciate the polymers in the objects you’re holding or using. If it weren’t for them, a lot of things wouldn’t exist, after all!

Check out the rest of our blog page for more interesting posts!

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