5 Common Plastics

1. Polyethylene

Polyethylene (PE) is the world’s most commonly produced synthetic plastic, and it is used in a huge range of applications including grocery bags, laundry detergent containers and bulletproof vests. Generally, this type of plastic is divided into categories based on its density: high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE). This thermoplastic can be heated, melted, cooled and melted again without losing any of its integrity. As a result, it’s a perfect option for recycled products. Popular manufacturing methods for this type of plastic include injection molding, CNC machining or vacuum formation.

2. Polypropylene

Like Polyethylene, polypropylene (PP) is also a thermoplastic. That makes it great for recycling. This type of plastic often appears as a fiber in applications such as rugs and thermal underwear, but it can work as a more traditional plastic in products such as lab equipment and certain car parts. Polypropylene is the world’s second most commonly produced synthetic plastic. In manufacturing, various types of molding, including blow molding and injection molding, are used to turn this plastic into a variety of objects. In some cases, manufacturers use extrusion methods to turn polypropylene into long rolls that can eventually be manufactured into other products.

3. Polyethylene Terephthalate

Abbreviated as PETE or PET, polyethylene terephthalate is more commonly known by the name polyester. However, this plastic isn’t just for textiles. Because PET is safe for food use, manufacturers commonly use it for food packaging, like the plastic containers with strawberries or blueberries at the grocery store or for plastic containers of vegetable oil. In manufacturing, PET pellets get heated until they form a hot liquid which is then put into a mold.

4. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Commonly known by its abbreviation PVC, polyvinyl chloride is the world’s third most common plastic polymer after polyethylene and polypropylene. Most people engage with this type of plastic on a daily basis. It’s commonly used in plumbing pipes, bank cards and even imitation leather. PVC can be manufactured in a range of ways which create a liquid or powder version of the plastic. Roughly half of all PVC is then made into pipes, and the rest is made into a range of other materials using traditional molds, 3D printing or other manufacturing methods.

5. Polystyrene

Polystyrene (PS) is most commonly known as Styrofoam, the brand name for packing peanuts. However, that’s certainly not the only application for this plastic. Manufacturers also use it to create soft drink lids, petri dishes and test tubes. The styrene part of this plastic appears naturally in cinnamon, beef, strawberries and some other products, and the polymers are added to make it useful for manufacturing purposes. This plastic can be clear in color, which makes it great for use in food packaging. Polystyrene is one of the few plastics that can be turned into foam. In addition to packing materials, this type of plastic is also used in insulation, surfboards and small foam coffee cups. Typically, manufacturers start with small beads of polystyrene, which they then mold, extrude or cut into desired shapes. This is just the tip of the plastic iceberg. There are a huge range of other plastics, and at Allied Plastic Supply, LLC, we also work with a long list of other materials. To learn more, contact us today.