Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic "addition polymer" made from a combination of propylene monomers. It is used in a variety of applications, including consumer goods packaging, plastic parts for various industries such as the automotive industry, special equipment such as living hinges, and textiles. Polypropylene was first polymerized in 1951 by two Phillips petroleum scientists named Paul Hogan and Robert Banks, and later by Italian and German scientists Natta and Rehn. This method became extremely rapid as commercial production began less than three years after it was first polymerized by Italian chemist Professor Giulio Natta. Natta perfected and synthesized the first polypropylene resin in Spain in 1954, and the crystallization ability of polypropylene caused great interest. By 1957, its popularity had surged, and extensive commercial production began across Europe. Today it is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world.
Polypropylene has a relatively smooth surface, making it an alternative to plastics such as acetal (POM) in low-friction applications such as gears or as contact points for furniture. Perhaps the downside of this quality is that it can be difficult to adhere polypropylene to other surfaces (ie, it does not adhere well to certain glues that work well with other plastics, and sometimes must be used where a joint is needed Welding)). Although polypropylene is slippery at the molecular level, it does have a relatively high coefficient of friction-which is why acetal, nylon or PTFE are used instead. Polypropylene also has a low density compared to other common plastics, which can save weight for manufacturers and distributors of injection molded polypropylene parts. It has excellent resistance to organic solvents such as fat at room temperature, but can oxidize at high temperatures (potential problems during injection molding).
One of the main advantages of polypropylene is that it can be manufactured (by CNC or injection molding, thermoformed or crimped) into living hinges. The living hinge is a very thin piece of plastic that can bend without breaking (even in extreme ranges of motion close to 360 degrees). They are not particularly useful for structural applications such as lifting heavy doors, but are especially useful for non-load-bearing applications such as ketchup or lids on shampoo bottles. Polypropylene is a unique representative of living hinges because it does not break when repeatedly bent. One of the other advantages is that polypropylene can be CNC machined to include living hinges, which allows for faster prototype development and is cheaper than other prototyping methods. The innovative mechanism is unique in that we can process living hinges from a single piece of polypropylene.
Another advantage of polypropylene is that it can be easily copolymerized (essentially combined into a composite plastic) with other polymers such as polyethylene. Copolymerization significantly changes the properties of the material, enabling stronger engineering applications compared to pure polypropylene (more of its own commercial plastics).
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