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Life Cycle of Acrylic Plastic

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Lauren Galban

on 14 October 2015

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Transcript of Life Cycle of Acrylic Plastic

Acquiring Materials and Processing
Life Cycle of Acrylic Plastic
Oil and Natural Gas are the most common raw materials used to create plastics. Certain chemical processes have to followed in order to reach the desired plastic (Acrylic). Certain monomers are often linked into polymers to form chains that create a wide variety of plastics.
Methyl Methacrylate

Methyl Methacrylate is one of the most common monomers that make up plastic and it is acquired in several different ways. One possible way to acquire Methyl Methacrylate is to react Acetone with Sodium Cyanide to produce Acetone Cyanhydrin. This is then reacted with methyl alcohol to produce the final product of methyl methacrylate. This Methyl Methacrylate can then be linked together to form different plastics.

Although oil and natural gas are common materials used in plastics, other, more basic, elements can also be involved. Oxygen, chlorine, fluorine and nitrogen are also found in the molecular makeup of many plastics.

Acrylic plastics are made and manufactured in three forms: flat sheets, long tubes and rods, and molding powder. Molding powders are made by a process known as suspension polymerization. Through this process, a reaction takes place between parts of the monomer suspended in a solution of water and catalyst. This results in grains of polymer with tightly controlled molecular weight suitable for molding or extrusion.

Acrylic plastic sheets are formed by a process known as bulk polymerization. The monomer is poured into a mold as well as a catalyst, where a reaction occurs. The reaction forms a plastic in the shape of the mold. The continuous method is quicker and involves less labor. It is used to make sheets of thinner thicknesses and smaller widths.

Acrylic plastics are molded and shaped, and then set to cool down. After they are cooled, they are stacked and wrapped in a thin layer of plastic to avoid scratching and blurring.
Plastic is also being used as its own form of packaging. Plastic is used to seal foods and other products. It is a more efficient way of packaging. It is much lighter than packaging products and goods in paper. It takes seven trucks to carry the same number of paper bags as fits in one truckload of plastic bags. Plastics make packaging more efficient, which ultimately conserves resources.

The average annual increase in the rate of consumption of acrylic plastics has been about 10%. It is predicted a future annual growth rate of about 5%. These plastics continue to have a wide variety of uses and are very popular.
After all materials are made into the plastic and packaged, they are ready to be shipped and transported. Most often, sheets of acrylic plastic are stacked and loaded up on a cargo ship to be shipped all over the world. Acrylic plastic is not made in one specific location because it is easy to make and reproduce so it is manufactured everywhere.
Acrylic Plastics are used quite often in everyday life. The most common acrylic plastic is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), which is sold under the brand names of Plexiglas, Lucite, Perspex, and Crystallite. This plastic is durable and very transparent (more clear than glass). These properties make it ideal for many applications including airplane windshields, skylights, automobile taillights, and outdoor signs. Plastics are also being seen in the way we package items as seen in the last step.

Most acrylic plastics are not recycled due to the fact that they are hard to be broken down without being highly dangerous.
Large pieces of the plastic can be bent and shaped into other useful objects to be reused. One example of this includes 100% reused plastic straws and cups.
Acrylic plastics manufacturing involves highly toxic substances which require careful storage, handling, and disposal. The polymerization process can result in an explosion if not monitored properly. It also produces toxic fumes. Recent legislation requires that the polymerization process be carried out in a closed environment and that the fumes be cleaned, captured, or otherwise neutralized before being released into the atmosphere.
After acrylic plastics are used, they can be disposed of. This is either in the form of recycling, reusing or of actual disposal into a landfill. Many Acrylic plastics are not biodegradable and are flammable and need to be handled with extreme caution when disposing of them in the proper way.
Energy Use
Future Use
Price of plastics will continue to change over time. The price is based off of the available oil to create the product as well as amount of usable fuel to manufacturer the plastic sheets. As of right now, the prices are slowly declining but there continues to be a possible chance of increase.
Acquiring Materials/ Processing: In order to react the certain elements together, energy is needed.

Manufacturing: Actually creating the plastics require energy to be made. Heat is needed and pressure to mold and shape each piece.
Transportation: Energy is required in the form of fuel to power trucks and ships in order to send the products all around the world.
Disposal: Energy is needed to properly polymerize the Plastic as to not cause any harmful effects. Heat energy may also be required through the disposal process and the reusing process.
Acrylic plastic is not only very easy to retain, but it is also very clear and weather resistance making it possible and efficient to use as a replacement glass. Other physical properties include, light transmission, smooth texture, ability to be cut, and protection from sun's rays.

"Plastics: An Industry Being Molded by the Current Economy." AccuVal. Gordan Brother Group, 01 Nov. 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <http://www.accuval.net/insights/industryinsights/detail.php?ID=115>.

"Lifecycle of a Plastic Product." Lifecycle of a Plastic Product. American Chemistry Council, 2005. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <http://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Education-Resources/Plastics-101/Lifecycle-of-a-Plastic-Product.html>.

"Acrylic Plastic." How Acrylic Plastic Is Made. Advameg, 2015. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Acrylic-Plastic.html>.

"Acrylic / PMMA (Polymethyl Methacrylate)." Recycling of Acrylic and PMMA Scrap: RecPlas. Blue Spark, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <http://www.recplas.co.uk/acrylic-pmma-recycling.html>.

"EcoSpecifier Global." EcoSpecifier: Eco Priority Guide: Paints. N.p., 2015. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.

"Paint/Coatings: Life Cycle." Pratt CSDS. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.
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