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THERMOPLASTICS


Thermoplastics are made of long-chain molecules linked by weak van der Waals forces and this produces a weak structure. Therefore, thermoplastics deform under compressive forces. Also, these weak forces weaken on heating leading to softening. When thermoplastics are heated, the molecular chains are able to move relative to one another. The softening points are different in different types and so not generally well defined. They are about 60C to 110C. After heating and on cooling, thermoplastics regain their original degree of stiffness. This process can be reversed repeatedly and provided the material is not overheated to cause degradation. This recycling property can make thermoplastics be softened, melted or formed into useful articles and then be resoftened, remelted and even reused. Because of softening when heated, thermoplastic products cannot be used near to sources of heat.


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