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A tough, translucent, white, thermoplastic polymer made from propylene. In 1954, Giulio Natta (Milan Polytechnic, Italy) polymerized propylene and, by 1957, polypropylene fibers were being commercially produced by Montecatini Societa Generale (Italy). Polypropylene is similar to polyethylene, but is slightly less dense with higher gloss, rigidity, and softening point. It has fair abrasion resistance and good resistance to heat and electricity. Polypropylene is used for medical supplies, electrical appliances, toys, bottles, fishnets, pipe, clothing, vapor barrier films, road signs, molded parts, carpet, artificial grass, laminates, food packages, furniture, and photographic enclosures. Polypropylene is also made in a low molecular weight form that is used as greases, sealants, and wax.

Synonyms and Related Terms

PP; polyolefin; polipropileno (Esp.); polypropylène (Fr.); polipropilene (It.); Polypropylen (Deut.); polypropeen (Ned.); polipropileno (Port.); polypropen (Sven.)

Examples: Coroplast; Propylex; Herculon; Microfoam



Other Properties

Soluble in some hydrocarbons, isoamyl alcohol. Insoluble in acetone, diethyl ether, lower alcohols, ethyl acetate, acids, alkalis.

Burns with yellow flame and blue center; smells of paraffin.

Composition [C3H5]n
CAS 9003-07-0
Melting Point 160-165
Density 0.85-0.94

Hazards and Safety

Degraded by ultraviolet light and may contain UV absorbers or antioxidants. Combustible, but slow-burning.

Scientific Polymer Products: MSDS


Physical Properties for Selected Thermoplastic Resins

General Characteristics of Polymers

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 836
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Product Information Comment: Sigma Chemical MSDS has CAS 25085-53-4; Merck has CAS 9003-07-0 as does MSDS for Environmental Science; Scientific Polymer products has 9003-0704 for isotactic polypropylene
  • Website address 1 Comment: www.nswpmith.com.au/historyofplastics.html;