Top 5 Common Uses of Polypropylene
Polypropylene is a type of thermoplastic polymer resin. In short, it is a very useful type of plastic, with numerous commercial, industrial, and fashion applications. In order to understand better the common uses of polypropylene, we have to look at its main features and advantages first.
The main benefits of polypropylene are also the main reason why manufacturers in a plethora of industries prefer it to other types of plastic. Let us see what these important features and benefits are:
- It is very resilient to wear, tear, and fatigue: this makes it perfect for items that endure high levels of physical stress;
- It has a very high melting point – around 20 degrees F: this comes with many uses in the food container industry and other heat resistant applications;
- Comes with great color fastness properties – meaning that we can easily add color to it without degrading the quality of the material itself;
- It does not absorb water like other plastics – meaning we use it for waterproof applications;
- It is resilient to sun and other elements – making it one of the best solution for outdoor applications;
- It is resilient to mold, rot, bacteria, and more – which means we can use it for extended periods in indoor and outdoor environments without risking damage;
- It supports additions, in terms of elements which offer it elasticity – these new versions of polypropylene come with a rubber-like composition, opening the door to newer and newer applications;
- It is chemically resistant to most oils and solvents;
- It is lightweight and flexible – meaning we can tailor it upon our wishes and needs;
- It comes with the smallest environmental impact among all plastic types; we can recycle polypropylene items and parts into many applications (cases, cans, home storage, flowerpots, pallets, crates, composite lumber etc.); it produces less solid waste by weight and less CO2 equivalents by weight than PET, PS or PVC.
Summing up, polypropylene is a more sustainable plastic than its peers, comes with plenty of structural, chemical, and physical advantages, it costs very little to produce, and we use it every day in almost every aspect of our life. In fact, it would be hard to live without it. For this reason, we will focus next on the main five common uses of polypropylene.
1. Flexible and Rigid Packaging
Polypropylene comes with many packaging applications you may not even know about. In its flexible form, polypropylene tends to replace cellophane, metals and paper due to its superior properties and lower price. As film and flexible packaging, you will find polypropylene film in three main sectors:
- Food and Confectioneries
As rigid packaging, you will find polypropylene in sectors such as caps and closures to pallets, crates, bottles, Just-in-Time (JIT) storage solutions, bottles and jars for packaging (condiments, detergent and toiletries), thin-wall containers (yogurt cups, disposable hot drinks cups etc.).
2. The Fashion and Sports Industry
If you look back at the list of polypropylene’s advantages and features, you will easily understand why this material is the go-to choice for the sports, clothing, and fashion industries.
- Due to the resilience of polypropylene to wear, tear, sun, elements, mold, bacteria, and especially water, you will find the material present in the building of outdoor equipment and accessories.
- One of the largest applications of polypropylene in the sports and fashion sector is the production of tote bags and cynch bags. These bags are resilient, sturdy and durable, reusable, waterproof, and lightweight. Moreover, you can personalize them with graphics, logos, monograms, prints, and so on, as polypropylene works amazingly with colors that stand the test of time. Polypropylene bags, drawstring backpacks, and duffel bags are a must-have for dynamic people who want personalized comfort, utilitarianism, beauty, and affordability.
- Polypropylene makes a good addition to sports clothes, equipment, and undergarments – we find it in cold-weather base layers for winter sports, but also in warm-weather clothing for summer sports, as it keeps perspiration away from the skin.
- Do you know your summer beach slippers? You have high chances to own a pair made of polypropylene.
Besides clothes and accessories – with the tote bags and cynch bags’ industry on top of the list – modern designers began to use polypropylene for making contemporary jewelry as well. All clothes, bags, and jewelry share the common traits of the material. They are durable, versatile, printable, resilient to fatigue and the elements, hypoallergenic, and incredibly fashionable.
3. Medical Applications
Besides the fact that polypropylene is a material found in any medical laboratory that uses plastic in all forms and purposes, one of the most known medical applications of this material is the synthetic, non-absorbable suture Prolene. Surgeons use it in prolapse repair operations as well. In the medical field, we also find polypropylene used for equipment, tools, containers, and more.
4. Consumer Products
This list is very long – we told you that we all use polypropylene every day and sometimes we do not even realize it. In the consumer products’ department, we find polypropylene in the following sectors:
- Houseware – namely carpets, mats, and rugs. The polypropylene fibers are very durable and the colorfastness of the material allows for bright and resilient carpets, which have great traffic resistance and keep their colors fresh and vibrant for many years;
- Furniture – polypropylene finds its way in all types of upholstery; molded polypropylene is also an important “ingredient” in indoor and outdoor furniture;
- Luggage – as we said, polypropylene is an amazingly versatile material. In its thin form, you find it in tote bags, duffle bags, sports bags, backpacks, and more. In its rigid state, you will find luggage that holds your belongings safely and resists heavy manipulation and all the beatings your bag can take in an airport.
- Appliances and household items – due to its resilience to heat, oils, solvents, mold, and bacteria, polypropylene represents the go-to choice for microwave food containers, dishwasher pods, containers, plates, and other kitchen items. We use it to make sauce bottles and jars, many types of food containers, but also parts and components of vacuum cleaners, pressure cookers, washing machines, dishwashers, and more.
5. The Automotive Industry
In this sector, polypropylene becomes increasingly popular. We use it for car dashboards, but for other interesting applications as well: bumpers, cladding, and exterior trim, film cushioning, film skins, covers, interior elements, and more. In some specific applications, polypropylene also managed to replace the traditional painting.
Did you know about these common uses of polypropylene? Which are the other sectors and areas where you know we use this type of plastic? What other advantages do you know about?