Automobile parts, grooming products, sports clothing, gymnastics floors, tennis racquets, golf clubs, heavy plastics are making their way into so many products around you. Considered to be lighter, more durable and effective, these thermoplastic composites are not only easy to use, but more economical as well. You’re probably aware of the impact plastics are making in your life, but you’d be surprised to learn about some of the products that rely on plastics.
Seen those cool exercise floors that offer a bit of bounce to help gymnasts soften the impact of their landings? They’re made using glass-reinforced high density plastics called fiberglass and are then topped with a layer of plastic foam and carpeted using plastic fibers.
Irrespective of what sports you’re into, you’re probably wearing sports made using high density plastics such as acrylic, polyester, spandex and nylon. And that’s not even counting all that safety equipment like shin guards, helmets and visors.
But goggles are made out of glass, you might argue. Probably not! Whether you’re swimming, riding or skiing, wearing breakable glass lenses so close to your eyes isn’t the smartest thing to do, is it? Most sports safety goggles are made using shatter-resistant heavy plastics such as polycarbonate. You can even get prescription lenses made out of these shatterproof plastics as well.
The heavy wood surfboards of yesterday have been quickly replaced with plastics that combine plastic foam and thermoplastic composites to offer enhanced wave riding action and increased buoyancy. Your tennis racquet is typically made using high density plastics as well. Most modern day racquets combine plastics and carbon fiber. This makes them stronger and stiffer yet lighter than previous models.
Not the first thing that would come to your mind. Probably not the last one either. This unexpected item relies on durable plastic soles to keep you comfy while running, jumping or kicking. In fact, Nike uses recycled polyester plastic to make its Flyknit sneakers, using up 182 million plastic bottles from landfills.
Gone are those days when bikes were actually so simple that you could probably make them in your backyard modern day bikes use carbon fiber reinforced plastics to combine strength, reliability and durability while keeping the weight of the bike in check. These high density polymers have made their way to the seat posts, handlebars, frames, cranks and rims.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you look at that pole vault? A piece of wood? Bamboo perhaps? Not today! The 1950s saw a switch to glass fiber and plastics, and the world has been grateful ever since. Modern day pole vaults are lighter, more flexible and stronger than ever, helping athletes reach gravity-defying height.
Our intelligent use of heavy plastics has done wonders to improve and enhance the environment, the economy and our lifestyle. And with new research conducted on a daily basis, we should see plastics hold an even more important place in our lives in the near future.