Common Thermoplastics

Updated February 21, 2017

Thermoplastics are a type of plastic that becomes malleable when heated and solid when cooled. In their malleable state, they can be repeatedly moulded and changed, which allows them to be reused several times and sets them apart from thermoset plastics, which harden when heated and are not reusable. Most of the plastic types used in daily life are thermoplastics.


Acetate is stiff, transparent and easily dyed, and it has a high melting point. It has a variety of uses, from spectacle frames to tool handles as well as photographic films and clothing.


Acrylic is rigid, hard, transparent and weather-resistant. As such, it has been often used as a replacement for glass. Its first use was in aircraft canopies during World War II. Acrylic is often found in outdoor signs, tables, sinks, automobile lights and safety shields.


The production of stockings was nylon's first use and is still the most common, to the point that artificial stockings are generally referred to as "nylons." Other uses of nylon are as ropes, hinges, electronics and packaging.


Polythene was the first type of plastic to sell more than 1 billion pounds a year in the United States. Today, most plastic bottles are made of polythene, as well as parts of domestic appliances and supermarket bags.


Polypropylene is a soft and versatile type of plastic used in various types of containers as well as plastic seats and ropes.


Polystyrene is light, stiff and resistant to water. It is used to make some toys and cases for electrical products, as well as protective packaging and insulation.

Polyvinyl Chloride

Better known as PVC or vinyl, polyvinyl chloride is used for pipes, fittings, window and door frames as well as cables, hoses, flooring and even clothing.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Laurel Storm has been writing since 2001, and helping people with technology for far longer than that. Some of her articles have been published in "Messaggero dei Ragazzi", an Italian magazine for teenagers. She holds a Master of Arts in writing for television and new media from the University of Turin.