In the past, people have seen the progress of technology. From the simple usage of wood and cement to the invention of metal, mankind has really made great progress to become what they are today. Along with this progress are some changes to their lifestyle. These changes were brought about by the materials surrounding them, and two materials that revolutionized man’s life today is rubber and plastic.
It is quite easy to differentiate between the two. By simply looking at each material, one can immediately tell that a particular thing, or object, is made of rubber and not plastic, or vice versa. The only confusion between the two is when the term polymer is used. Yes, a polymer as a term that greatly denotes plastics, but nonetheless, this term also describes the characteristic of rubbers. Although rubber is more of the specific elastomer (a viscous or elastic variation of polymers), it is still considered to be a polymer.
Both plastics and rubbers are classified in many different manners. In fact, for plastics alone, there are more than 10,000 different types. Some are grouped according to type, quality, design or to the material(s) used to make the rubber or plastic. This is why both materials have become very diverse in terms of their usage. Plastics are used in almost every aspect, like clothing, food, beverages, construction, and many others. Its major classes are the more common thermoplastics (plastics that will melt when enough heat is applied) and the thermosets (can only melt or take form once, because they remain solid after they have been solidified). Rubbers are more commonly used in vehicle tires, industrial purposes and basic to advanced warfare.
It is also important to denote that it was around the year 1976 when plastic become widely used around the world. Plastics are basically made from natural gas and petroleum. Both of these raw materials are nonrenewable. Hence, recycling plastics is the immediate solution to the growing demand for the said material. On the contrary, rubber can be either synthetic or natural. Synthetic means that the rubber is made from crude oil, which also happens to be another nonrenewable resource. Nevertheless, the other type (natural rubber) can be harnessed from trees (i.e. rubber tree), in which a substance (latex) is then extracted.
Although both are polymers, plastic and rubber differ because:
1. Rubber can be considered elastomers, and that’s why when compared to plastics, they are naturally more elastic.
2. Synthetic rubber is derived from crude oil, whereas synthetic plastic is made of petroleum and natural gas.