Polypropylene (PP), or polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer resin. It was invented by Giulio Natta in 1954 in Italy. It was originally produced by the Italian chemical company Montecatini, under the name Moplen. Today it is manufactured around the world and is used in a rapidly growing variety of applications. Polypropylene is an essential material in most fields and industries imaginable – home goods, textiles, medical and laboratory equipment and the list goes on and on.
While polypropylene is lightweight and rugged, it can be produced with various textures with the use of different polymerization processes.
It can be used both as a molded plastic or a fiber.
It has a high melting point (it can tolerate up to 160°C, or 320°F) without melting,
It does not absorb water, and is not affected by detergents, acids, or bases and other harsh chemicals (in other words – durable).
It is also nonconductive and can therefore be used as a dielectric.
While it can be manufactured in a wide variety of colors, the material itself is clear when it’s biaxially oriented (biaxially oriented polypropylene is also known as BOPP).
It is highly fatigue-resistant and can stand continuous flexing, which makes it perfect for snap-open lids (such as condiment bottle caps, shampoo cap bottles and more).
Like many other thermoplastics, polypropylene can be recycled – it is melted and reformed into plastic pallets, then used to make new products.
Products Made of Polypropylene
Given all its traits, it is used in the production of an outstanding array of products in just about any industry or field imaginable. Since the list is incredibly long, here are just a few examples of everyday products made with polypropylene:
Cabling Industry: for tunnels and the air ducks in buildings, Polypropylene-covered cables are used to reduce potential risk of toxic fumes in case of a fire. While most non plenum cables have a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) jacket, riser cables’ jacket is made of polypropylene. This is due to the fact that polypropylene produces very little smoke and doesn’t release dangerous halogens while burning. Polypropylene is classified as “low smoke zero halogen.”
Medical and Surgical Supplies and Components: Polypropylene can tolerate high temperatures. a fact that makes it appropriate for medical components that need to be heat sterilized. More so, it is non-absorbable and is rarely rejected by the human body. For that reason it is used in some surgical sutures. Polypropylene is the material of choice for hernia repair and prevention patches.