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Thermoplastic Polymer NGSS

  • Thermoplastic Polymer (250 g)
    Thermoplastic Polymer (250 g)
    Item #: HEA-500
  • - +
  • Polymer Pigments 5 Pack
    Item #: HEA-525
  • - +
  • Red Polymer Pigments (3 g)
    Item #: HEA-5RED
  • - +
  • Yellow Polymer Pigments (3 g)
    Item #: HEA-5YEL
  • - +
  • Green Polymer Pigments (3 g)
    Item #: HEA-5GRN
  • - +
  • Blue Polymer Pigments (3 g)
    Item #: HEA-5BLU
  • - +
  • Black Polymer Pigments (3 g)
    Item #: HEA-5BLK
  • - +
This polymer can be heated and molded over and over again.
250 g.

Description

This amazingly versatile polymer can be heated and molded over and over again! It falls into a class known as thermoplastics. The melting point for this material is quite low, only 58oC to 60oC, so it can be melted in hot water and molded by hand. It can also be cut or extruded. Safe and biodegradable. 250 g.

Read more on our Blog - Molding a Thermoplastic Polymer

Download the MSDS of this product.

Video


Lesson Ideas

Download the pdf of this lesson!

Download the MSDS of this product.

A thermoplastic polymer is a type of plastic that changes properties when heated and cooled. Thermoplastics become soft when heat is applied and have a smooth, hard finish when cooled. Thermoplastics are amazingly versatile and can be heated and remolded over and over again. This polymer conveniently melts at 58 to 60o C.

Procedure

Materials
Hot water above 78oC
Glass beaker
Glass stirring rod
Tongs
Thermoplastic Polymer

Procedure

  1. Pour a number of thermoplastic polymer granules into the hot water in the glass beaker.
  2. Stir the granules with the glass rod while observing the color change that takes place. The granules will become pliable and sticky and cling to each other. When all of the polymer has turned translucent, the polymer has melted.
  3. Lift the softened polymer from the hot water using tongs or the glass rod.
  4. The polymer will remain pliable for 5-7 minutes and can be molded into many different shapes. If students are not happy with their first attempt, they can put the polymer back in the hot water to soften.

    Warning: Do not overheat! The melted polymer may be hot! Instruct students not to put the polymer into their mouths. It will bond to metal braces. Students should not make bracelets or rings as the polymer will harden and be difficult to remove.

What is happening?
A chocolate slab can be heated and shaped into an Easter egg. On a hot day the Easter egg, again, is transformed into a new shape. Some polymers can be melted, cooled and re-melted just as with chocolate. Polymers that can be heated and reformed over and over again are known as thermoplastics. This group makes up the majority of man-made polymers. These polymers can be shaped into any form. After heating, it can be shaped by extrusion – that is forcing it through a die. A heated polymer can also be poured or pressed into a mold. This is called molding.

On the other hand, when heat is applied to a raw egg, it solidifies as it is transformed into a solid boiled egg. After cooling, it cannot be transformed into another shape by heating. A group of polymers behave similarly. This type of polymer is known as thermoset polymers. These plastics undergo an irreversible molecular change when sufficient heat is applied. Their molecules form cross linkages, and this creates a rigid, permanent structure. Just as a boiled egg can't be un-boiled, thermoset plastics can't be softened again once it is heated and formed. We use thermosets in applications where durability, heat resistance, and strength are determining factors, for example as pan handles, refrigerator insulation, car parts, and in the electrical and space industries.

Thermoplastic Polymers:
Can be heated and molded over and over
Have long, unconnected molecule chains with few or no crosslinks
Can ignite and burn when heated
Examples: Styrofoam packing peanuts, polystyrene plastics, plastic bottles, etc.

Thermoset Polymers:
Once formed it cannot be softened by heat
Have many crosslinks between the polymer chains, forming a rigid structure
Usually resists burning, but may char at high temperatures
Examples: Epoxies, polyesters, RIM Urethane

Real Life Applications of Thermoplastic Polymers
Many applications take advantage of the material remaining workable for a period when cooled below the melting point. Applications are:

  • Shoe soles, heels and toe stiffeners
  • Hot melt glues
  • Rigid and lightweight splints and casts replacing Plaster of Paris as orthopedic support
  • Orthodontic molding systems, etc

Disposal
Can be re-used many times. If there is a need to dispose of the polymer then do so in compliance with local/federal regulations. This product is not significantly hazardous for the environment and is biodegradable in soil.

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Reviews

3 reviews
Thermoplastic Polymers and Dyes
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Feb 21, 2019
What a wonderful way to combine chemistry, polymers, color, and art all into one activity. Our outreach organization has used the thermoplastic polymer and the associated dyes on numerous occasions both here in my lab and at museums in the area allowing the guests to dye and shape the polymer into whatever form they desire. We pass out a 250-mL beaker of hot water, a 44-mL cup (Party Store is a great source) 3/4 filled with the thermoplastic beads and a wooden craft stick (Michael's is a good source) to each individual. We tell them quickly but carefully pour the beads into the hot water. They can use the craft stick to squish the beads as the change from white to translucent. We also come around and ask each guest what color or colors would they like. We add only 1 or 2 beads of each color. Because of the price, we pass out the colors rather than them get the colors. When all the beads are translucent and soft (it is not melting, as some people think), the guests can remove the colored polymer with the craft stick, blow on it a bit to ensure it is cool enough to touch, and then begin blending in the colors and molding into the desired shape. The polymer can also be separated into two or more pieces if desired. When the polymer becomes too rigid to shape, it can be returned to the beaker of hot water to soften again. The guests have produced a whole variety of objects - rabbits, flowers, turtles, hearts, stars, balls, blocks, and pretzels, among many others. The audience is informed that they may take their "art" home and, if desired, placed in hot water and shape into something new (under parent supervision of course and to use a glass container). Some very artistic people have created some very beautiful objects such as multicolored flowers. In the outreach class that I teach at Duke, my students had each student make ornaments for the "chemis-tree" and another group made a complete set of dishes and silverware as part of their in-class presentation. The possibilities are almost unlimited. Two negatives - first is that the dye pellets are difficult to distribute. They are in a plastic vial that breaks easily and acquiring one or two is challenging to say the least - Second is keeping enough hot water available for large group hands-on activities. We have found that a microwave oven is useful to obtaining hot water quickly rather than using hot plates. We have tried placing several beakers of water on each hot plate, which works; however, the turn around time for more hot water is much faster than we can heat the water. The results far outweigh the challenges so we keep this on our list of activities. We will be using this activity at the Duke Nasher Museum of Art next March (2019) and have already completed doing this at the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh.
Kenneth Lyle

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Teacher
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Feb 9, 2016
This is a fabulous material and works exactly as described. Great uses for STEM activities, Auto Body &, Auto Tech CTE classes. Awesome stuff! Can it be purchased in bulk??
Dawn Ellis

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Department Chair
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Mar 16, 2015
Fantastic product, works exactly as described. Wish there was a bulk discount.
John Strehl

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NGSS

This product will support your students' understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)*, as shown in the table below.

Elementary Middle School High School

2-PS1-1

Students can use Thermoplastic Polymer to plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.

2-PS1-2

Students can analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.

2-PS1-3

Students can use Thermoplastic Polymer to make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object make of small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.

2-PS1-4

Students can use Thermoplastic Polymer in an investigation to construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.

5-PS1-3

Students can use Thermoplastic Polymer to make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.

MS-PS1-4

Students can use Thermoplastic Polymer in an investigation to develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.

MS-ETS1-4

Students can use Thermoplastic Polymer in an investigation to develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

DCI/MS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions-

A solution needs to be tested, and then modified based on the test results in order to improve it.

HS-PS2-6

Students can use Thermoplastic Polymer in an investigation to observe and communicate scientific information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of a material.

Suggested Science Idea(s)

2-PS1-1
2-PS1-2
2-PS1-3
2-PS1-4
5-PS1-3
MS-PS1-4
MS-ETS1-4
DCI/MS-ETS1.B
HS-PS2-6

Thermoplastic Polymers can be heated and molded over and over again due to the structure of long, unconnected molecule chains with few or no crosslinks. When added to 60 degree water, the thermoplastic polymer melts and be molded by hand into shapes. It can also be cut and extruded. The object can then be re-melted using hot water from a coffee pot. During the heating and cooling process the translucent white material changes to a clear substance that is pliable. Polymer Pigment (HEA-5RED, 5YEL, 5BLU, 5BLK) can be added to tint the Thermoplastic Polymer.

This versatile polymer can be used to make objects as well as show properties of matter.

 

* NGSS is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of, and do not endorse, this product.

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