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Polypropylene (PP), also known as polypropylene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications. It is produced via chain-growth polymerization from the monomer propylene.
Polypropylene belongs to the group of polyolefins and is partially crystalline and non-polar. Its properties are similar to polyethylene, but it is slightly harder and more heat resistant. It is a white, mechanically rugged material, and has a high chemical resistance. Polypropylene is the second-most widely produced commodity plastic (after polyethylene) and is often used in packaging and labeling.
Polypropylene is in many aspects similar to polyethylene, especially in solution behaviour and electrical properties. The methyl group improves mechanical properties and thermal resistance, although the chemical resistance decreases. The properties of polypropylene depend on the molecular weight and molecular weight distribution, crystallinity, type and proportion of comonomer (if used) and the isotacticity. In isotactic polypropylene, for example, the methyl groups are oriented on one side of the carbon backbone. This arrangement creates a greater degree of crystallinity and results in a stiffer material that is more resistant to creep than both atactic polypropylene and polyethylene.
Melting process of polypropylene can be achieved via extrusion and molding. Common extrusion methods include production of melt-blown and spun-bond fibers to form long rolls for future conversion into a wide range of useful products, such as face masks, filters, diapers and wipes.
The most common shaping technique is injection molding, which is used for parts such as cups, cutlery, vials, caps, containers, housewares, and automotive parts such as batteries. The related techniques of blow molding and injection-stretch blow molding are also used, which involve both extrusion and molding.
The large number of end-use applications for polypropylene are often possible because of the ability to tailor grades with specific molecular properties and additives during its manufacture. For example, antistatic additives can be added to help polypropylene surfaces resist dust and dirt. Many physical finishing techniques can also be used on polypropylene, such as machining. Surface treatments can be applied to polypropylene parts in order to promote adhesion of printing ink and paints.