Materials In Today's World



Although natural polymers have been used by mankind for many centuries, the use of polymers has exploded with the development of synthetic polymers within the last 100 years. Due to satisfactory properties, ease of production, and lower costs, synthetic polymers have replaced many metal, wood, rubber, and fiber parts in many materials applications. In this lesson, we look at the molecular structures of polymers and the development of numerous polymers that are synthesized from small organic molecules. Several different types of end uses of polymers in materials applications including plastics, fibers, coatings, adhesives, films, foams, and advanced materials will be discussed.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe a typical polymer molecule in terms of its chain structure and, in addition, how the molecule may be generated from repeat units.
  • Cite the differences in behavior and molecular structure for thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers.
  • Draw repeat units for polyethylene, poly(vinyl chloride), polytetrafluoroethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene.
  • Name and briefly describe the four general types of polymer molecular structures.
  • Name and briefly describe the four types of copolymers.
  • Define hydrocarbon, unsaturated hydrocarbon, saturated hydrocarbon, and isomerism.
  • Cite the seven different polymer application types and note the general characteristics of each type.

Lesson Roadmap

Lesson 8 will take us 1 week to complete. Please refer to Canvas for specific due dates.

Lesson Roadmap
To Read

Read pp 215-231 (Ch. 11) in Introduction to Materials ebook

Read pp 232-245 (Ch. 12) in Introduction to Materials ebook

To Watch Plastic: The Secret Life of Materials
To Do Lesson 8 Quiz


If you have general questions about the course content or structure, please post them to the General Questions and Discussion forum in Canvas. If your question is of a more personal nature, feel free to send a message to the instructor through Canvas email. The instructor will check daily to respond.