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Polypropylene (PP), is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, textiles (e.g., ropes, thermal underwear and carpets), stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes.
In 2007, the global market for polypropylene had a volume of 45.1 million tons, which led to a turnover of about 65 billion US-dollars (47.4 billion Euros).
Most commercial polypropylene is isotactic and has an intermediate level of crystallinity between that of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Polypropylene is normally tough and flexible, especially when copolymerized with ethylene. This allows polypropylene to be used as an engineering plastic, competing with materials such as ABS. Polypropylene is reasonably economical, and can be made translucent when uncolored but is not as readily made transparent as polystyrene, acrylic, or certain other plastics. It is often opaque or colored using pigments. Polypropylene has good resistance to fatigue.
The melt flow rate (MFR) or melt flow index (MFI) is a measure of molecular weight of polypropylene. The measure helps to determine how easily the molten raw material will flow during processing. Polypropylene with higher MFR will fill the plastic mold more easily during the injection or blow-molding production process. As the melt flow increases, however, some physical properties, like impact strength, will decrease.
There are three general types of polypropylene: homopolymer, random copolymer, and block copolymer.
For external applications, UV-absorbing additives must be used. The polymer can also be oxidized at high temperatures, a common problem during molding operations. Anti-oxidants are normally added to prevent polymer degradation.
Since polypropylene is resistant to fatigue, most plastic living hinges, such as those on flip-top bottles, are made from this material.
Very thin sheets of polypropylene are used as a dielectric within certain high-performance pulse and low-loss RF capacitors.
Polypropylene is used in the manufacturing piping systems.This material is often chosen for its resistance to corrosion and chemical leaching, its resilience against most forms of physical damage, including impact and freezing, its environmental benefits, and its ability to be joined by heat fusion rather than gluing.
Many plastic items for medical or laboratory use can be made from polypropylene because it can withstand the heat in an autoclave. Its heat resistance also enables it to be used as the manufacturing material of consumer-grade kettles. Food containers made from it will not melt in the dishwasher, and do not melt during industrial hot filling processes. For this reason, most plastic tubs for dairy products are polypropylene sealed with aluminum foil (both heat-resistant materials).
A common application for polypropylene is as biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP). These BOPP sheets are used to make a wide variety of materials including clear bags. When polypropylene is biaxially oriented, it becomes crystal clear and serves as an excellent packaging material for artistic and retail products.
Polypropylene, highly colorfast, is widely used in manufacturing carpets, rugs and mats to be used at home.
Polypropylene is widely used in ropes, distinctive because they are light enough to float in water.
Polypropylene is also used in particular roofing membranes as the waterproofing top layer of single-ply systems as opposed to modified-bit systems.
Polypropylene is most commonly used for plastic moldings, wherein it is injected into a mold while molten, forming complex shapes at relatively low cost and high volume; examples include bottle tops, bottles, and fittings.
It can also be produced in sheet form, which is been widely used for the production of stationery folders, packaging, and storage boxes. The wide color range, durability, (cost,) and resistance to dirt make it ideal as a protective cover for papers and other materials. It is used in Rubik's cube stickers because of these characteristics.
The availability of sheet polypropylene has provided an opportunity for the use of the material by designers. The light-weight, durable, and colorful plastic makes an ideal medium for the creation of light shades, and a number of designs have been developed using interlocking sections to create elaborate designs.
 


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