Plastics is the word

Well, if you’re my age or older, you know that in the movie The Graduate, the title character is advised on his career prospects with one word, “Plastics.” Actually, for the late sixties, the word should have been, “Microelectronics.”

Anyhow, I suspect that in the near term, the word will be plastics. After the dollar collapses, China will no longer be churning out stuff for the US, so we Americans will have to revitalize our manufacturing industry, and plastics manufacturing in particular.

In that regard, I’m reading a book called The Production and Properties of Plastics. It was written in 1947, so it’s kind of an historical introduction to the industry. What’s most interesting is the organic source of so many plastics — ground walnut shells, skim milk, things you’d never think of.

On the uninteresting but possibly important side is the names of so many plastics and chemical compounds that are being thrown at me. I’m not even sure what urea is, and that’s only four letters. At least I’ve learned the difference between thermosetting (sets permanently with temperature) and thermoplastic (sets repeatedly with temperature), and that there are five components of plastic: binder, filler, color, lubricant, and accelerator. Who knew?

More importantly, why would they want to know? Well, I have a suspicion that if 3D printing takes off, knowing the properties of plastic might come in handy. But don’t give me a pop quiz on this book. A lot of it is just a blur at this point. And yes, I intend to read something more modern, as soon as I finish this one.

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About engineerzero

Once and future engineer.
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