Metalwork - Materials - Types of Plastics

The list of the different types of Polymers is almost endless, however here we have tried to list the most important, and the ones that you may be the most familiar with. Below is the list and below that are the Polymers.
Recognised Name(s) Full Name Class Properties Main Uses
Polymethalmethacrylate Thermoplastic

Naturally as clear as glass, can be coloured, easier to scratch than glass, available in sheet and rod.

Rear lights of cars, Motorcycle windshields, Machine guards, Shop signs, Lenses, Baths, Light fittings, Dentures, etc.

Polyethylene Thermoplastic

Available in two types :

Good electrical insulator, translucent, can be coloured, good resistance to most chemicals, fairly flexible, softens at 85°C.


Fairly stiff and hard, translucent, can be coloured, good resistance to most chemicals, softens at 125°C so can withstand hot liquids.

LDPE : Food protection film, soft plastic bags, Electric cable covering, etc.

HDPE : Plastic bottles, Crinkly plastic bags, Buckets, Bins, Pipes, etc.

P.V.C. Polyvinylchloride Thermoplastic

Tough and rigid, plasticisers increase flexability, good strangth, good resistance to chemicals and water, transparent, can be coloured.

Electrical cable insulation, Garden hoses, Fake leather, Rain coats, Shower curtains, Car seat upholstery, etc.

Guttering, Sewerage pipes, Transparent bottles, Chocolate box liners, Credit cards, etc.

Nylon Nylon Thermoplastic

Naturally white or cream, can be coloured, good resistance to wear and temperature, good frictional properties, strong and rigid.

Bearings, Gears, Rollers, Curtain Rails, Ropes, Power tool casings, Zips, Bristles for brushes, Fishing lines, Textile fibres, etc.

Phenol Formaldehyde
Phenol Formaldehyde Thermosetting

Good heat and electrical insulator, flame resistant, hard and stiff, can withstand very high temperatures.

Kitchen pot and pan handles, Iron handles, Ashtrays, Electrical fittings, Bottle tops, Brake linings, Distributer caps, etc.

Polyester Resin Polyester Resin Thermosetting

Can be reinforced with fibres, very stiff and hard, chemicals added to set or harden without heat or pressure.

Ornamental castings, Buttons, Car body repair kits, etc.

Boats, Lorry cabs, Trays, Storage tanks, Garden Pools, etc.

Polyurethanes Polyurethanes Thermosetting

Has many different forms, flexible foams, rigid foams, structural foams, elastomers, coatings, all with different properties.

Upholstery, Building insulation, Refrigerators, Furniture manufacture, Shoe soles, Wood varnishes, Many different car parts, Matresses, Ski boots, Cushions, Toys, etc.

A.B.S. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Thermoplastic

Very tough, resists chemicals.

Telephones, Domestic waste pipes, etc.

Acetals Acetals Thermoplastic

Very strong, resistant to hot water.

Plastic jug kettles, etc.

Polystyrene Polystyrene Thermoplastic

Stiff, hard and brittle, can be rigid or foamed, floats.

Yogurt cartons, Disposable cups, Trays, Egg cartons, Compact disk jackets, Ceiling tiles, Packaging material, etc.

Polytetrafluroethylene Thermoplastic

Usually whits, smooth texture.

Non stick coatings on cooking utensils, Underside of the space shuttle, etc.

Polyester Film Polyester Film Thermoplastic

Transparent, stiffer than other polymer films, not to be confused with Polyester resin.

Audio tape, Cooking bags, etc.

Urea Formaldehyde Urea Formaldehyde Thermosetting

Very hard and stiff, good wear resistance, good electrical insulator.

Plug tops, switch covers, etc.