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Plastic Engineering

10/8/2012 12:51:52 PM | by Anonymous

Plastics: Engineering

A materials engineering field, plastic engineering deals with the study of plastics; which are materials derived from polymers. Engineers in this field develop new designs of plastics including the existing ones while studying the properties of plastics to find new applications of these materials. They also experiment and develop new types of plastics that provide better properties to suit various applications. Plastic materials have been a great cause of concern with several issues concerning them. Since their creation, plastics have been used in several applications due to their low cost, versatility and strength. However, with these benefits come several challenges, Plastics are non-degradable materials that can cause harm to the environment when burnt. Another role of plastic engineers is to develop plastics that match the needs of the various applications, while keeping cost at a minimum. For example, the plastic being used to make shopping plastic bags is different from the plastic used to make safety helmets. Factors such as these pose several challenges to plastic engineers, thus, they have to continuously develop plastics that offer more advantages than disadvantages.


A plastic engineer has to understand plastics and their properties, while having excellent expertise in chemistry and physics to be able to perform tests and experiments and provide solutions to problems within the industry. Most products today use plastic to be manufactured. Thus, plastic engineers have to find the best possible type of plastic that would suit a certain product. Some conditions that they may have to consider can be resistance against harsh outdoor weather if the plastic product is intended to be used outdoors, thermal properties if the product would involve a variations of temperatures, resistance to chemical attacks and strength. Plastic engineers can work for either public or private sectors, using their knowledge and skills to provide solutions to problems. These engineers can even work in research organizations that specialize in testing and creating new types of plastics that would serve as solutions for problems.


Polymeric materials exhibit a high level of workability making it suitable in the manufacture of soft or hard materials, brittle or flexible casing, and several other types of products which take advantage of the flexibility of plastics. As various plastic would have different properties, plastic engineering would require a researcher to determine the physical and chemical properties of the material and then develop application for that plastic based on its properties. Issues such as cracking, fatigue or failure to perform are some other concern of plastic engineers as they look into the issues that cause these plastics to fail, and then look for solutions to improve them. This can be done through changing the chemical properties of the plastic or adding foreign molecules in the make up of the plastic to change its physical properties.


From making of toys, safety equipment and making utensils to construction of electronics, furniture and even in medical implants, applications of plastics prove to be very broad. A plastic engineer develops plastics suitable for each of such application which includes deciding on the best type of plastic that fits the category based on the properties that plastic holds. Plastic engineers would also have to have knowledge on the area that they are designing a product for. For example a plastic engineer who is designing a plastic chair for kids would have to have knowledge of anthropometry so that the size and dimension of the product are ideal for the comfort of kids. Also the plastic should not be coarse, have the ability to withstand stress and also not have rough edges. Thus, a plastic engineer may also have expertise in another field aside from plastic engineering.

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