View random article

What Is Polypropylene?

Polypropylene (with the chemical name of C3H6) is a kind of plastic polymer. It has numerous applications, and is a key ingredient in both industrial processes and consumer goods. Even if not many know of the chemical, nearly everbody has somehow encountered and even used it. If you have heated a meal, or flicked open the cap of a toothbrush, you have polypropylene to thank.

For example, polypropylene is a busy housewife’s best friend. It’s used to make food containers, particularly the kind that are safe to use in the dishwasher. That’s because polypropylene has a higher melting point than many other plastics made of polyethylene, and can withstand temperatures of up to 320°F (160°C).

Polypropylene is also a golfer’s best friend, too. It is sometimes made into carpets, especially those that are durable enough for outdoor use. That’s because, unlike other materials, it does not have the tendency to absorb water. Thus, miniature golf courses and swimming pools will usually have carpeting or rugs made from polypropylene. Another advantage of polypropylene is that it can be colored, opening many design options and a wider range of consumer product applications.

Polypropylene is a durable material. It is not as resistant to shattering as other plastics, especially if it put under a lot of weight. However, it has the unique ability to take “handling” much better without breaking. For example, cup or mug hinges made of polypropylene can be opened and closed without much fear of being broken from repeated applied stress. That’s why it is the favored material for making Tupperware, as well as industrial molds and even automobile parts.

Featured in Science