Plastic is the general common term for a wide range of synthetic or semisynthetic organic amorphous solid materials used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce costs. Monomers of Plastic are either natural or synthetic organic compounds.
The word is derived from the Greek Ï€Î»Î±ÏƒÏ„Î¹ÎºÏŒÏ‚ (plastikos) meaning fit for molding, and Ï€Î»Î±ÏƒÏ„ÏŒÏ‚ (plastos) meaning molded. It refers to their malleability, or plasticity during manufacture, that allows them to be cast, pressed, or extruded into a variety of shapesâ€”such as films, fibers, plates, tubes, bottles, boxes, and much more.
The common word plastic should not be confused with the technical adjective plastic, which is applied to any material which undergoes a permanent change of shape (plastic deformation) when strained beyond a certain point. Aluminium, for instance, is plastic in this sense, but not a plastic in the common sense; in contrast, in their finished forms, some plastics will break before deforming and therefore are not plastic in the technical sense.
There are two types of plastics: thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers. Thermoplastics will soften and melt if enough heat is applied; examples are polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Thermosets can melt and take shape once; after they have solidified, they stay solid.
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