Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene-ABS is a common thermoplastic used to make light, rigid, molded products. It is a copolymer made by polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene. The proportions can vary from 15% to 35% acrylonitrile, 5% to 30% butadiene and 40% to 60% styrene. The result is a long chain of polybutadiene criss-crossed with shorter chains of poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile).
The nitrile groups from neighbouring chains, being polar, attract each other and bind the chains together, making ABS stronger than pure polystyrene. The styrene gives the plastic a shiny, impervious surface. The butadiene, a rubbery substance, provides resilience even at low temperatures. ABS can be used between −25 °C and 60 °C.
Polyamide-PA is a polymer containing monomers joined by peptide bonds. They can occur both naturally, examples being proteins, such as wool and silk, and can be made artificially, examples being Nylon, Kevlar and sodium poly(aspartate). The amide link is produced from the condensation reaction of an amino group and a carboxylic acid or acid chloride group. A small molecule, usually water, ammonia or hydrogen chloride, is eliminated.
The amino group and the carboxylic acid group can be on the same monomer, or the polymer can be constituted of two different bifunctional monomers, one with two amino groups, the other with two carboxylic acid or acid chloride groups.
Polybutylene terephthalate-PBT is a plastic that is used as an insulator in the electrical and electronics industries. It is a thermoplastic crystalline polymer, and a type of polyester. PBT is resistant to solvents, shrinks very little during forming, is mechanically strong, heat-resistant up to 150°C (or 200°C with glass-fibre reinforcement) and can be treated with flame retardants to make it noncombustible.
Polycarbonate-PC is a particular group of thermoplastics. They are easily worked, molded, and thermoformed; as such, these plastics are very widely used in modern manufacturing. They are called polycarbonates because they are polymers having functional groups linked together by carbonate groups (-O-CO-O-) in a long molecular chain.
The most common type of polycarbonate plastic is one made from Bisphenol A, in which groups from Bisphenol A are linked together by carbonate groups in a polymer chain.
Polyoxymethylene-POM is an engineering plastic used to make gears, bushings and other mechanical parts (cf. nylon, teflon, UHMWPE). The most important polyacetal resin, it is a thermoplastic with good physical and processing properties. Long molecules of this compound are also found in formalin preserving solutions.
Polypropylene-PP is a thermoplastic polymer, used in a wide variety of applications, including food packaging, textiles, laboratory equipment, automotive components, and polymer banknotes. An addition polymer made from the monomer propylene, it is unusually resistant to many chemical solvents, bases and acids.
Polystyrene-PS is a polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is commercially manufactured from petroleum. At room temperature, polystyrene is normally a solid thermoplastic, but can be melted at higher temperature for molding or extrusion, then resolidified. Styrene is an aromatic monomer, and polystyrene is an aromatic polymer.