The discipline of 'plastics' has been organized into several sections:-
Defining Characteristics - how plastics differ significantly from other materials.
Molecular weight and particularly ideas of molecular weight distribution are generally unique to
polymers. Shear and elongational Rheology, Reptation, and Shear Normal forces play defining
roles in processing polymers/plastics. One major characteristic of plastic materials is the ability of
macromolecules to undergo massive orientation leading to significant anisotropic final properties.
Synthesis - basics of polymer synthesis and structure of individual polymer chains.
Simplistically macromolecules form in two ways. Vinyl monomers in chain reactions produce high
molecular weight materials. Di-functional monomers polymerize via condensation reactions.
Polymer molecules in the same reaction are rarely identical. Composition distribution is
measured with TREF and sequence distribution is modeled with the Copolymer Composition VI.
Polymers isomerize and free rotation about single bonds leads to conformational changes.
Key Bulk Properties - selected physical properties and their relationship to structure.
Many properties undergo significant Transitions at Tg and Tm. Mechanical properties are
characterized and modelled with a range of tests and tools including Static and Dynamic
Mechanical tests, Time Temperature Superposition, Simple Spring-Dashpot Models, and
HalpinTsai equations for composites with standard fillers and nano-particles. Barrier properties
are covered for a wide range of packaging polymers and for idealized nano-filled materials.
Morphology - organization of polymer chains into aggregate structures.
Polymer chains organized on the nanometer to micron size scale re the usual concern. These
present modules focus on semi-crystalline polymers and their rate of formation or Kinetics of
Crystallization, Crystallization Theories and Morphology of a variety of organized structures.
Processing - basic processes used in the plastics industry to form solids.
Finally polymers are formed into their final shape with a range of techniques. Extrusion is the
most basic industrial process and is a precursor to all subsequent processes. Blown film is used
in a many packaging applications and is shown here as a Virtual process.
Characterization Tools - analytical methods with specialized application to polymers.
This new category contains some analytical methods that are almost exclusively used on
polymeric materials. However, many standard analytical techniques are routinely used on
polymers but require specialized application or interpretation.