Polycarbonate (PC) is a thermoplastic. It is an amorphous polymer with functional groups linked by carbonate groups in a long molecular chain. It is made from bisphenol A and phosgene and is a widely used and popular plastic in modern industry.
PC has the particularity that, when subjected to a machining or chemical polishing process, it will develop its full transparency and optimum quality. This is a material that is generally found in a very affordable price range, which allows for a wide range of applications.
Polycarbonates can be classified into 2 groups: polyaromatic carbonates and polyaliphatic carbonates. Polyaliphatic carbonates are created by the reaction of carbon dioxide with epoxides and require the use of catalysts.
Characteristics of PC plastic
- It is an easy to work with, thermoformable and mouldable material and is widely used in manufacturing.
- It is resistant to impact and moderate chemistry.
- It has good electrical properties and excellent dimensional stability.
- It is a colourless material due to its low crystallinity and amorphous nature.
- It has a density of 1.20 g/cm³ and its melting point is around 250 °C.
- It retains rigidity over a wide temperature range.
Polycarbonate is used to manufacture various products: household appliances, automotive parts, parts for precision mechanisms, parts in contact with foodstuffs or for medical and pharmaceutical use.
To obtain the different polycarbonate products, the most commonly used methods are injection, extrusion or blow moulding. Injection moulding is used to produce parts that have complicated geometries or materials with high transparency, blow moulding is used to produce polycarbonate bottles or film and extrusion is used in the production of cellular and compact polycarbonate sheets.
Recycling PC plastic
It is one of the most polluting plastics, it is highly resistant and its decomposition in the environment takes many years. For this reason it is very important to recycle it. In the natural environment, its degradation is slow, although seawater would decompose it quickly. This would lead to high pollution of the sea, which is why recycling is the best alternative. This material can be reused in industry, so it is very important that it is recycled in specialised plants. In this way it can be reintroduced into the production of other materials and thus reduce pollution. The most commonly used recycling processes for this material are mechanical recycling and chemical recycling. Recycling is quite difficult.
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