Hidden away inside many objects are components made from plastics materials selected for their ability to perform specific tasks reliably, often many times over. For example, the Spinhaler (1-2) has a small acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) propeller, activated by an intake of breath, to disperse a measured dose of medication. ABS has good dimensional stability making it a reliable material for such components. The speaker cone (3) is made from polypropylene (PP) and vibrates hundreds of times a second. The material is flexible, strong and moisture resistant and is capable of delivering the sound quality required without distortion.


Impact protection in the pointes of the Capulet Juliet ballet shoes (4) is provided by D3O rather than traditional materials, typically densely packed layers of fabric, cardboard and paper, hardened by glue. D3O’s intelligent molecules flow freely for comfort when dancing, but lock together, absorbing shock and impact when landing on the toes.


The impact energy received from the club by the Taylormade TP5X golf ball (5) is harnessed by the multiple layers of plastics materials covering a synthetic rubber core. Each layer is progressively stiffer resulting in an increase in velocity, distance and greater control of spin.


The interior of the Canterbury CCC batting gloves (6) includes a rigid acrylic layer and Poron, a polyurethane (PU) foam, to absorb impact from the cricket ball. Additionally, they contain a high frequency welded bladder (7) made from PU that is inflated to provide valuable extra protection to the back of the hand.


On occasion, the outer body of an object is made from transparent material to enable the components to be made a feature, of as illustrated by the the Staple Wizard (8), Freeplay torch (9), and the water meter (10). Such items contain gears and cogs commonly made from polypropylene (PP) or polyamide (PA) both of which have high fatigue strength, low friction factor, excellent wear and resistance, good electrical insulation and require little or no lubrication to operate.