Performance Plastics – learn about plastic

In this video we’re going to talk about plastic: What it is, that there are different types and a glimpse of what you can make with it. Okay, so I’m sure you already know about some things about plastic. I mean it’s everywhere around us: Jerry cans (watering cans), packaging, flower pots, toys, containers, cups. A lot of stuff we have is made from plastic. You can literally find this on any place in the world Even in places where we don’t want to have it… and last year we produced a lot of it. I mean I cannot even imagine how much that is. In fact I couldn’t even pronounce it that’s why I wrote it down and this number is still growing every year because we keep producing more new plastic.

Which is kind of weird because on the one hand is made from oil which is a precious fossil fuel we’re running out of and on the other end it ends up on places in the world where we don’t want it, damaging our planet and environment In fact research says that less than 10 percent of our plastic actually gets recycled, so of all the new plastic we make a lot of it ends up in the wrong place. Time to get recycling, right? So plastic often looks and feels the same, but it’s probably not. In fact there are dozens of different types of plastic out there, but you can narrow it down into two main categories. So, for instance, this bowling ball is a thermal set, and this lunch box is a thermal plastic. And the biggest difference, is that the lunch box you can always remelt it so when you’re done with this you can melt the plastic again, and turn it back to another shape or its original shape.

And this bowling ball is made from a very hard polyurethane. It’s molded into this shape and afterwards you cannot remelt it. This is basically a block of material which you cannot really do anything with. And this one you can just remelt it and reuse it again. And luckily about 80% of the plastic is made from this type, which is good thing because this one is easy to recycle. In fact it often has this little logo on the bottom, which says that you can recycle it And this is what the plastic looked like as a raw material: small pellets that are used over the entire plastic industry to create new things.

Huge High Density Polyethylene rod

But even within this group of plastic there are many different types. But we can narrow them down again into several main groups, which basically all the plastic around you is made from. And each of them has their own difficult technical name like “Polypropylene”, “Polystyrene”. I don’t know where they make it so difficult, so often the shorter version is being used. It’s hard to tell the difference between two types of plastic. I mean they can have the same color, feel the same, and look the same but still being a different type. And this is actually the main problem with plastic how to separate the different types of plastic because they all have different properties, behaviors and melting temperatures. But there are a few tricks on how to get this done. Trick number one (and this is by far the easiest one): is look for the logo. If it has a recycle logo, you can see which type of plastic it is so this one is made from polypropylene.

Unfortunately not every plastic product has a logo like this… And then you need another– Trick number two is to remember it and this is actually often done in recycling plants. So for instance, flower pots: made from polypropylene Lego is made from ABS. The bottle caps are made from HDPE. But as you can imagine, there’s a lot of different plastics out there; a lot of things to remember so this goes wrong, and isn’t 100% accurate.

Another one is to look at the visual properties. For instance, polystyrene has this breakable sound, whereas polyethylene is more flexible and tough kind of plastic. And then there’s another technique which is called “the flame technique”. We don’t recommend this, but it’s a technique, so we’re going to show you. For instance, if you burn plastic you get a little flame, so, this one has a nice yellow flame. If we’re going to fire up this one… So and this has, like, this dark smoke, which is polystyrene. Like I said, we don’t recommend this technique. Yeah, it’s not nice. The last one is the floating technique. This is quite an interesting one, so, let’s say you have a lot of different types of plastic, mixed.

You can put them in the water, and some will sink and some will float. And then we’re going to add some water. So you can see some plastic floats, some will sink. But if we add some salt… So as you can see: the polypropylene and polyethylene floats, and the PET (Polyester or Polyethylene Terephthalate) sinks. And you can do this with other types of plastic as well by changing the density of the water, And all the more detailed information: like the different densities, or the different flame colors, or the visual properties you can download in our download pack.

So as we just learned there are many different types of plastic out there, and the ones that you can recycle basically all work according to the same principle. You need some heating and some pressure to mold it into something new and that’s pretty much the basic start of the entire plastic industry. They all work according to these principles. But they have a lot of variation, and by making a different combination of these techniques they can make a whole range of different products. And our machines are based on these techniques as well, only, simplified and made with local tools and materials, so you can build them yourself.

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