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This Is Plastics: Plastics are critical to innovation in high performance technology

Feb. 04, 2024

Gone are the days of shoebox-sized cellphones and clunky, box set televisions. To thank for these transformations, look no further than plastics. In the last 50 years, semiconductors or microchips, have made electronic devices smaller, more effective, and more reliable. From cellphones and televisions to satellites and computers, these small chips account for the conveniences that are modern life—thanks in large part to plastics and its breadth of properties.

Plastics make the modern-day microchip possible

A microchip is a unit of interconnected electronic components that is typically smaller than your fingernail or even a grain of rice. But, somehow, these tiny chips are the brains of every electronic device in existence and plastics are vital to their production. In fact, plastics ensure that the semiconductor and consumer electronic industries can produce new, higher quality technologies more cost effectively.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo recently developed a new way to more affordably create conjugated polymers—a plastic that can conduct electricity like a metal material. With this unique capacity, conjugated polymers are used in lightweight and low-cost electronics like solar cells and LED displays. According to research coordinator Derek Schipper, this material is economical and more environmentally friendly to produce than metal alternatives, and further reduces the weight and size of electronics. Prior to the University of Waterloo’s development, plastics used for chip production already cost less than traditional materials like ceramic or quartz. Using a more affordable material creates cost-saving opportunities for the electronic industry that are passed to consumers.

Plastic microchips in particular are also smaller and more compact than other chips made with traditional materials, which creates efficiencies for electronic manufacturing. For example, the use of plastic microchips in flat-screen televisions has enabled many manufacturers to rollout increasingly lighter, thinner products with improved screen quality. Even further, as electronics are designed to be sleeker and smaller with plastics, shipping and transportation logistics are also made more efficient since the products are lighter and smaller to carry. Additionally, plastic microchips have helped ensure that newer electronics are more energy efficient, by reducing the energy needed to power screen-based devices.

Plastics elevate the quality of electronics

Plastics also offer a unique purity that other materials typically used in electronic manufacturing do not. Alternative materials like metal or glass often contain contaminants, like trace metals, organics, and other particles, which can negatively impact or even damage the final product. This can affect manufacturers’ bottom lines and lead to excess waste and slowdowns in manufacturing procedures. Pure plastic polymer compounds, however, significantly minimize and even eliminate the risk of contamination, helping to ensure that electronics and the microchips that power them are of the highest quality.

For example, plastics have been a key component of video game manufacturing since the first commercial video game console was released in the early 1970s. And key to the digital games of our childhood are the controllers, joysticks, and gamepads used to play them, which utilize plastic for maximum longevity, malleability and player comfort. In today’s times, the PlayStation DualShock controller is often considered to be the most ergonomically designed ever, with a winged shape and convenient button placement, all encased in a shell of high-density polyethylene.

Plastics fortify the production process for electronics and microchips

Not only have plastics modernized microchips and the high-performance tech industry, but this versatile material is also fortifying the machines that produce them. Durable plastic polymers, which are able to withstand extreme temperatures and harsh environments, are vital components of the engineering machinery for electronics and allow manufacturers to specifically direct heat where needed in machines. When producing sensitive electronic components like circuit boards, polyimide plastic is often used in assembly because of its low thermal conductivity to prevent damage during the manufacturing process.

Unlike traditional materials like metal or ceramic, plastics are more impermeable to corrosive nitric and hydrochloric acids, which are key to the production of microchips. This reduces the need to replace or repair machinery, and also reduces the risk of fire incidents. The unique properties of plastic as insulation, particularly as poor conductors of heat, has even led to the advent of the cool-touch computer.

Plastics are essential to modern microchips and the thousands of high-performance technology types that use them. As global supply chain shortages highlight the need for these tiny pieces of technology, it is important to note how critical plastics are to ensuring that this industry can continue to innovate, evolve, and meet ever rising demand.


Both the Plastic Engineering and Plastic Technology involve the study of some kind of polymers. Even though they deal with the same theme, the two fields are dissimilar in many aspects. Polymer Engineering is the engineering field which applies the hypothesis and knowledge in chemical engineering that is involved in the manufacturing and use of polymers. Plastic Technology is a particular branch which involves the study of chemicals that exhibit plasticity and its uses.

Polymer Engineering Course and Career opportunities :-

Polymer engineering is a specialization in engineering field which utilizes the hypothesis and knowledge in chemical engineering to find solutions to several problems that involves the manufacturing and use of polymers. At the present scenario, the use of polymers has been gradually increased. The demand for experts in this field is also high.

Polymer engineers are those who specialize in this field and use the principles of various technologies to produce new products. They use plant blueprints, thermodynamics, process design and transport phenomena to develop these new products. They also manage the manufacturing process of plastics and many other polymers. It is under their administration the plastic technicians and moulders perform the shop floor production processes. Since the polymer production has increased in many countries, the professionals working is this area have also increased gradually.

Plastic Technology Course and Career opportunities :-

Plastics are the most commonly used chemical compound in human life. They are used tremendously for the production of usual as well as specific products. Plastic technology is a specialized branch of study which includes the study of diverse types of chemicals that exhibits plasticity. It also involves the study of several methods in which plastics can be utilized for use in human life. The field is also concerned with the research works to produce plastics eco friendly. Plastic is peculiar kind of synthetic or artificial polymer and is similar to natural resins in many aspects. These materials are used in a wide variety of applications due to its unique capability of providing diverse features that benefits the consumers. Because of its exclusive properties, the plastics are used in many different areas like for packaging, containers, automobile parts, plastic industries, etc. One can enter in this field profession after pursuing the study in plastic technology.

Key differentiators between Polymer Engineering and Plastic Technology :-

  • Plastic engineering is a specialization in engineering field which applies the knowledge in chemical engineering to produce and use different kinds of polymers whereas Plastic technology is the peculiar field which involves the study of chemicals that exhibit plasticity and its uses.
  • The polymer engineers are the professionals who use the principles involved in the technology to manufacture kinds of polymers whereas experts in plastic technology are also concerned with the research work to make plastic eco friendly apart from production of new plastic products.
  • Although the plastic engineering and plastic technology involves the production and use of polymers, there are lots of dissimilarities between them.

Hope this helps.

This Is Plastics: Plastics are critical to innovation in high performance technology

what is difference between plastic engineering and plastic technology


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