Plasticizers In Polymers

Many different materials use plasticizers — PVC, rubber, plastics and so on. In fact, the discovery of plasticizers pretty much made the polymer industry possible. Without a plasticizer, most polymers would just be too brittle and rigid to be useful. If plasticizers didn’t exist, many of the everyday items you rely on — from the rubber soles of your work shoes to the flexible comb you carry in your purse — simply wouldn’t be possible. Virtually any plastic or polymer item you can think of has a plasticizer added to it, and often more than one.

More chemicals than we care to count here are now used as plasticizers, but we can break down the major families plasticizers fall into.

· Phthalates are used in PVC cables, films, coatings, adhesives and certain plastics that need flexibility.

· Dicarbonates are also used in PVC when the application needs to work in low temperatures.

· Phosphates add flame-retardant qualities.

· Fatty acid esters impart flexibility to rubber and vinyl.

Of course the plasticizer a manufacturer uses in a polymer really depends on a number of factors, including what the material will be used for, the physical characteristics desired, the performance needed and the plasticizer’s compatibility with the other compounds in the polymer

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