From Ziploc bags, cellophane, and soda bottles to computer keyboards and car fenders, plastics are a pervasive part of our lives today. The development of plastics in the early 20th century made it possible to create lighter, more durable, and more affordable consumer products. Plastics were appealing to designers in the 1930s and 1940s, a time when these were key consumer concerns. Today’s plastics are not only sturdy and resilient but, in many cases, beautiful.

The Science of Plastics

Plastic is a general term for a wide range of synthetic and naturally occurring materials. It is also used to describe something that can be molded or re-formed. Plastics are made of polymers, giant molecules that consist of many smaller, repeating chemical building blocks. Different patterns of molecules create different kinds of plastic, each of which has its own unique properties and applications.

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