What are Plasticisers used for?

Editor:Jinli Chemical │ Release Time:2023-12-19 

What are Plasticizers?

Plasticizers are a class of chemicals used in a wide range of plastics, rubbers, and other materials to increase their flexibility, malleability, and workability. Plasticizers increase the plasticity and elasticity of plastics by inserting intermolecular voids in the polymer matrix, making the material easier to bend, stretch and deform. Plasticizers have a wide range of applications in many industries, including construction, automotive, electronics, and packaging.


Four families of plasticizers:

1. Phthalates: Phthalates are one of the most commonly used plasticizers to improve the flexibility and processability of plastics. They are widely used in plastic products such as flexible PVC products (e.g., plastic flooring, wire and cable insulation, automotive interiors, etc.). However, some phthalate plasticizers (e.g. DEHP, DBP, etc.) are considered to pose a potential risk to human health, and their use has been restricted in some regions.


2. Alkyd (Adipates) and Fatty Acid Esters (Sebacates): Alkyd and fatty acid ester plasticizers are commonly used in rubber and vinyl materials to improve their flexibility and cold resistance. They are widely used in the automotive industry to make automotive seals, rubber hoses and plastic parts.


3. Phosphates: Phosphate plasticizers are mainly used to improve the flame retardant properties of materials. They are added to plastic and rubber products to improve their fire resistance. Common applications for phosphate plasticizers include wire and cable insulation, building materials and automotive interiors.


4. Other plasticizers: In addition to the above mentioned families, there are many other types of plasticizers such as epoxy esters, polyesters, fatty alkyds, and others. These plasticizers have different properties and advantages depending on the application and material requirements.


Benefits of plasticizers?

1. Increased flexibility and malleability of plastics: Plasticizers increase the flexibility and malleability of plastics by making them easier to bend, stretch and deform. This makes plastic products easier to process and mold.


2. Improve the cold resistance of materials: some plasticizers can improve the cold resistance of plastics, so that they remain flexible and reliable performance in low temperature environment. This is especially important for products used in cold regions.


3. Enhance the fire resistance of materials: Flame retardant plasticizers, such as phosphates, can significantly improve the fire resistance of plastic and rubber products, reducing the risk of fire and the damage to people and property.


4. improve the processing performance of materials: the use of plasticizers can improve the processing performance of materials such as plastics and rubber. Plasticizers can make materials easier to inject, extrude, calender and mold, increase productivity and reduce energy consumption.


Advantages and limitations of phthalate plasticizers

1. Solubility and Mobility: Some plasticizers may have high solubility and mobility, which means that they may be released from the plastic and transferred on exposure to other substances or the environment. This can pose a potential risk to human health and the environment.


2. Stability and durability: Some plasticizers may break down or volatilize gradually over time, resulting in a decrease in the flexibility and performance of the material. This may limit the useful life of the plasticizer in certain applications.


3. Environmental impacts: Some plasticizers may have potential negative impacts on the environment. When plasticizers are released from waste or wastewater, they may contaminate water bodies and soil.


Safety of plasticizers

To address these concerns, researchers are constantly looking for safer and environmentally friendly alternatives, such as bio-based plasticizers and plasticizers from renewable resources. In addition, some countries and regions have taken regulatory steps to limit the use of certain potentially risky plasticizers and to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly plasticizer technologies.

To summarize

Plasticizers play an important role in plastics, rubber and other materials, providing many advantages such as increased flexibility, improved cold resistance, improved processing properties and increased fire resistance. However, the use of plasticizers also requires attention to potential risks and environmental impacts, and the search for safer and sustainable alternatives.