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Polymer 101

SpecialChem / Andy Extance – Aug 12, 2009

Poly-what? It's a question we probably all ask ourselves the first time we hear the word "polymer". They're the basis of all adhesives, and how they're made has a big impact on final bonding properties. Whether you're a novice, or an expert formulator, thinking more about the polymers your products use is likely to pay off. The quickest definition of "polymer" would probably tell you that the word means the same as "plastic". While adhesive industry polymers can be quite different to the kind of plastic used in a drinks bottle, many of the basic concepts are the same. The word derives from the Greek "polymeres", meaning "many parts". The polymer is a chain made up from large numbers of its individual smaller molecular parts - or monomers - which become linked together through covalent chemical bonds in the process of "polymerization". This definition then rapidly leads us into some of the key questions all adhesive formulators should consider. Does the polymerization simply attach monomers in an orderly manner, each queueing up to join the end of a single long molecule?

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