This introductory article describes the various aspects of chemical structure that are important to an understanding of polymer properties and thus their eventual effect on the end-use performance of engineering plastics. The polymers covered include hydrocarbon polymers, carbon-chain polymers, heterochain polymers, and polymers containing aromatic rings. The article also includes some general information on the classification and naming of polymers and plastics. The most important properties of polymers, namely, thermal, mechanical, chemical, electrical, and optical properties, and the most significant influences of structure on those properties are then discussed. A variety of engineering thermoplastics, including some that are regarded as high-performance thermoplastics, are covered in this article. In addition, a few examples of commodity thermoplastics and biodegradable thermoplastics are presented for comparison. Finally, the properties and applications of six common thermosets are briefly considered.
Peter Martin, Engineering Plastics—An Introduction, Characterization and Failure Analysis of Plastics, Vol 11B, ASM Handbook, Edited By Todd J. Menna, ASM International, 2022, p 3–30, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.hb.v11B.a0006925
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