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There are two main types of polypropylene available: homopolymers and copolymers. The copolymers are further divided into block copolymers and random copolymers. Each category fits certain applications better than the others. Polypropylene is often called the “steel” of the plastic industry because of the various ways in which it can be modified or customized to best serve a particular purpose. This is usually achieved by introducing special additives to it or by manufacturing it in a very particular way. This adaptability is a vital property.
Homopolymer polypropylene is a general-purpose grade. You can think of this like the default state of the polypropylene material. Block copolymer polypropylene has co-monomer units arranged in blocks (that is, in a regular pattern) and contain anywhere between 5% to 15% ethylene. Ethylene improves certain properties, like impact resistance while other additives enhance other properties. Random copolymer polypropylene – as opposed to block copolymer polypropylene – has the co-monomer units arranged in irregular or random patterns along the polypropylene molecule. They are usually incorporated with anywhere between 1% to 7% ethylene and are selected for applications where a more malleable, clearer product is desired.
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