The word plastic comes from the Greek word “plasticos” which means to be shaped or molded by heat. There are two groups of plastic-thermoplastics and thermosets. Thermoplastics are like wax – they can be molded and re-molded many times under the right temperature. Thermosets are like concrete. They can only be molded once.
The plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States, providing significantly to the nation’s economy.
The construction industry is making increasing use of plastic materials that are waterproof, stable, weather-resistant, light and easy to handle.
Plastics and composite materials provide more efficient engines, improved aerodynamics and reduced aircraft weight to the aerospace industry.
More than 2000 police officers have been saved through the use of protective vests made with plastic materials.
In six decades of use, plastics have made healthcare simpler and new techniques and prostheses possible. They have reduced contamination, relieved pain and cut medical costs. They have prolonged lives, improved the quality of lives and saved lives.
The US plastics industry employs nearly 900 thousand workers.
The US plastics industry creates more than $380 billion in annual shipments.
There are nearly 18,500 plastics facilities in the United States.
The US plastics industry had a $16.2-billion trade surplus in 2010.
The plastics industry has a presence in every state.
From 1980 to 2010, US plastics industry shipments have grown at a 2.4 percent annual rate.
From 1980 to 2010, productivity in plastics manufacturing has grown 2.3 percent per year, which is better than the 1.9 percent per year productivity growth for manufacturing as a whole.
Polypropylene and PVC are used in cars to reduce weight, thereby cutting fuel consumption and making vehicles safer and more comfortable.
PVC is made into blood bags and plasma bags, ensuring safe and hygienic storage of blood products.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or Vinyl was discovered during experiments to bind rubber to metal. The material was inexpensive to manufacture, durable, fire-resistant and easily molded.
In 1933, two chemists set off a reaction between ethylene and benzaldehyde leading to the formation and discovery of a white waxy substance that looked like plastic, but was lighter; they called it Polyethylene. This plastic played a critical role in World War II, as it was used to insulate radar on airplanes, helping the allies to detect the enemy at night or in poor weather conditions.