Plastics can be classified as:

  • Thermoplastics or thermosets; smart polymers.
  • Thermoplastics are plastics that can be softened by heat.
  • Thermosets are plastics that cannot be softened by heat.

Smart polymers are plastics that react to stimuli and change their shape.

Choosing the most suitable polymer depend on its function (job).

Polymers can be flexible, soft, bouncy, stiff or hard.

There are 2 types of polymer

  • Natural Polymers made from natural materials (plants, animals).
  • Synthetic Polymers not made from natural materials, they are manmade.


Polymers are made by a process called polymerisation. The process is done by chemical reaction.

Polymers can be strengthened by including other material such as glass, carbon fibre and Kevlar. When two or more materials are combined we call this a composite.

Forms of Plastics

Film Sheet Bar
Rod Tube Thread