What are the Disadvantages of Polypropylene?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer that was developed in the middle of the 20th century. Over the years, polypropylene has been used in a number of applications, most notably as fiber for carpeting and upholstery for furniture and car seats. Polypropylene has also been a boon with the plastics industry, providing an inexpensive material that can be used to create all sorts of plastic products for the home and office. While there is no doubt that polypropylene has a lot going for it, there are disadvantages to use of polymers of this nature.

A polypropylene plastic container.
A polypropylene plastic container.

One of the main drawbacks to polypropylene is the product has a resistance to the addition of paint or ink once the cooling process has completed. This can make the raw material more difficult to work with, especially in applications where the polypropylene is being used to create household products, such as shelf organizers. Manufacturers have to be very careful to add the right amount of color at just the right time in the cooling process, or the material will be much more susceptible to cracking.

Polypropylene file holder.
Polypropylene file holder.

When it comes to the use of polypropylene in carpeting and upholstery, textile manufacturers have to be constantly aware of the temperature of the machinery while the fiber is going through the process. If the fiber becomes too hot, there is a tendency to break and jam on the rollers of many types of textile machinery. Carding, spinning, twisting, and warping machinery must be watched closely to ensure the refined fiber does not jam and begin to collect around a roller. When this happens, the material has a tendency to melt and harden into a substance that is extremely difficult to chip away.

The finished product must also be given extra care as well. Polypropylene does have a tendency to shrink after being woven into a pattern or design. Allowing for the average rate of shrinkage of the polymer makes it possible for manufacturers to accurately judge the amount of polypropylene yarn or woven sheets of material to purchase. When this is done, it is much easier to calculate the correct amount of trimming that can be done and still produce a product with the proper dimensions.

Polypropylene has been used for upholstery for car seats.
Polypropylene has been used for upholstery for car seats.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon350102

I think polypropylene doesn't even exist. I think it's made up.

anon98517

I am a student of a federal college of chemical and leather technology (CHELTECH) Nigeria, studying polymer technology. i would like to know more about polymer technology?

anon37963

Is polypropylene resin PF511 a good material to be molded into a syringe (holds sterile water without needle. Does it have a shelf life or anything?

anon23728

Does polypropylene contain bisphenol A? Does recycling symbol type 5 plastic contain bisphenol A?

klreimer

I am an artist that has been using yupo with watercolor paint. I have heard some negative comments that this paper will not hold up as other methods. should I be concerned that selling a piece for a NICE price, that the buyer and their children might be ripped off as the future?

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