Formed from polymer resins, thermoplastics are used in the United States for the permanent pavement markings seen on roads around the country. Pavement markings are one of many uses.
Made from glass beads, binder, colour pigment and filler materials, thermoplastic becomes a homogenised liquid when heated to or higher than 420F. When frozen, thermoplastic takes on glass characteristics and can shatter. Well-made thermoplastic can last five to eight years as pavement markings, according to trantexinc.com.
Hydrocarbon and alkyd are the two types of thermoplastic. The hydrocarbon variety uses petroleum-based resins and does not break down as easily under heat as alkyd does. Alkyd thermoplastic uses a natural resin that is resistant to petroleum-based products. The alkyd variety stands up against oil spills better than hydrocarbon thermoplastic.
Applied in liquid form, thermoplastic binds to porous materials, such as asphalt, and dries. Adding yellow, white and red pigments into a thermoplastic formula creates the colours seen in road markings. Thermoplastic is also used for sports equipment, shampoo bottles, stacking toy blocks and bulletproof vests.