WHY ARE SOME PLASTIC PRODUCTS TRANSPARENT?

Most plastics are safe, durable and inexpensive to manufacture.
Most plastics are safe, durable and inexpensive to manufacture. This makes it an amazing material in itself. When it is transparent, plastic really stands out as an indispensable material for many different applications. Of course there are other substances that are transparent glass-like or at least translucent wax paper. Plastic nevertheless makes its difference, and the science behind its transparency lies in the smallest details, monomers.

Remember, polymers are monomers (small molecules) used to form long and sometimes complex chains. Most polymers contain both crystalline (properly processed) and amorphous (unordered) molecular chains. The crystallinity of a polymer can affect the clarity of the plastic material.

It can be clearly seen what is transparent and what is not. If you can see something, then it’s a transparent substance, right? But scientists try a way to measure such things. This is where some measurements take effect. According to Craftech Industries, there are two ways we can determine the clarity of a material. The first is the refractive index that measures how much a material diffuses or bends light. When light passes through a transparent material, it never bends. The more direct the light passes through a material, the clearer it becomes.

The other clarity test is transparency. How easily can light penetrate a substance? This is determined by something called the Standard Test Method for Turbidity and Luminous Transmittance of Transparent Plastics. This ASTM test measures the amount of light that can travel through a substance. The higher the value, the clearer the light is, and the more transparent a substance is.

Transparent plastic is important for many reasons. Maybe it’s just simple marketing, companies want to make sure you can see their products from outside their packages. In other applications, transparency can be much more important. Many materials in medical and laboratory science are clear, so professionals can measure and make decisions in the right way, with advances they see with their bare eyes in front of them. In many applications this is vital.

When designing a product that needs to be transparent, a plastic type prevails, which is polycarbonate (PC / PK). It is a strong, clear and recyclable plastic used for everything from PC water bottles to laboratory equipment. The PC is recyclable because it belongs to the family of thermoplastic materials, ie it becomes liquid when heated. This is different from thermoset plastics that decompose only when heated to high temperatures. In terms of renewability, thermoplastic materials are preferred.

As the innovations continue in the plastics world every day, plastic materials will be further improved thanks to the use of curious brains and wonderful science. From higher durability to better clarity, we expect to see other applications in the development of transparent plastics.

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