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Uses of Polymers - Uses of natural polymers, Uses of synthetic polymers, Mixed organic-inorganic polymers and their uses & Commercial uses of polymers

Polymers are advanced materials that may be found in nearly every item we use from toothbrushes we use in the morning, laptops we use in our offices to the blanket we wrap while sleeping. Polymers' relevance has been emphasised in recent years due to their applications in many research, technology, and industry fields, ranging from fundamental usage to biopolymers and medicinal polymers.

Polymer use is growing due to its unique properties: low density, low cost, strong thermal/electrical insulating capabilities, and great corrosion resistance.

So, let’s delve deeper and try to see where we see the applications and uses of polymers. 


Table of contents

  • Major uses of polymer
  • Uses of natural polymers
  • Uses of synthetic polymers
  • Mixed organic-inorganic polymers and their uses
  • Commercial uses of polymers
  • Practice problems
  • Frequently asked question-FAQs

Major uses of Polymers

The backbone chain of many major polymers contains oxygen or nitrogen atoms in addition to carbon atoms. Among those, macromolecular materials with oxygen atoms are called polyacetals. Polyformaldehyde is the most basic polyacetal. It has a high melting point and is crystalline, resistant to abrasion and solvent action. 

  • Acetal resins, which resemble metal more than any other plastic, are utilised to make machine parts like gears and bearings.
  • Polyester is a linear polymer with a backbone chain that has a repeating pattern of ester groups.it is widely used in clothing fabrics such as polyester t-shirt, polyester pants etc. It is also used in the manufacturing of home furnishings such as pillowcases, bed sheets curtains etc. 
  • Polyamides are made up of naturally occurring proteins such as casein (found in milk) and zein (found in corn (maize)), which are used to make plastics, fibres, adhesives, and coatings.
  • The thermosetting urea-formaldehyde resins are among the synthetic polyamides. They are used to make moulded items, as well as textile and paper adhesives and coatings.
  • Nylon resins, a kind of polyamide resins, are also significant. They are strong, heat resistant, abrasion resistant, non-combustible, non-toxic, and can be coloured. Their most well-known application is as textile fibres, but they also have a variety of other uses such as in the manufacturing of conveyor belts and seat belts, fishnets etc. In the textile industry manufacture swimwear, raincoats etc.

Uses of Natural Polymers

Organic polymers

  • Organic polymers are important in living organisms because they provide fundamental structural elements and participate in important life processes. Polymers, for instance, make up the solid components of every plant. Cellulose, lignin, and a variety of resins are among them. 
  • Cellulose is a polymer made up of sugar molecules, known as a polysaccharide. It is used to produce paperboard and paper products, used as an additive in various food items etc. 
  • Lignin is a three-dimensional network of polypeptides. It is used as a binder for particleboard and similar laminated and composite wood products.
  • Wood resins are polymers of a simple hydrocarbon, isoprene. Another familiar isoprene polymer is rubber. It is used for sealing the wood, sealing kitchen work surfaces, waterproofing it etc. 
  • Proteins, polymers of amino acids, and nucleic acids, polymers of nucleotides—complex molecules made up of nitrogen-containing bases, sugars, and phosphoric acid—are two other significant natural polymers. Protein is important in the growth and development of the body in children and teens. It also helps the body to repair cells and make new ones. In the cell, nucleic acids convey genetic information. 
  • Starches are natural polymers made up of glucose that are essential sources of dietary energy produced from plants. Food starch is used as a thickener and stabiliser in food like curd, sauces etc.

Inorganic polymers

Diamond and graphite are examples of natural inorganic polymers. Both of them are made up of carbon atoms. 

  • Carbon atoms are connected in a three-dimensional network in a diamond, which gives it its hardness and therefore it is used in drilling, grinding or cutting materials. Diamond is also used in jewellery to make pendants, earrings etc due to their shiny lustre and durability.
  • Graphite on the other hand is soft and greasy and hence used as a lubricant and in pencil leads. 

Uses of Synthetic polymers

  • Many simple hydrocarbons, such as ethylene and propylene, can be converted into polymers by adding one monomer after another to the chain.
  • Polyethene is crystalline, transparent, and thermoplastic, which means it gets softens when heated. It is made up of repeated ethylene monomers. Polyethene polymer has applications in making coatings and packing material, in moulded components, in the production of bottles and in the manufacturing of containers.
  • Polypropylene is used in the textile industry and used to make moulded objects like polypropylene bottles and buckets. 
  • Similarly, polyisoprene and polychloroprene are all important in the manufacturing of rubbers. These rubbers are used in the manufacturing of tyres & tubes, hoses, balls, conveyor belts etc.


  • Vinyl chloride polymerizes to polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a colourless, rigid, strong thermoplastic substance that can be used in the manufacturing of foams, films, fibres, and electrical wire coatings etc. 

  • The combination of ethylene with acetic acid produces vinyl acetate, which polymerizes into amorphous, soft resins that are utilised as coatings and adhesives.
  • Some polymers, such as polystyrene, are glassy and transparent at room temperature. Polystyrene can be coloured in different shades and is used in the manufacturing of toys and plastic objects.

Mixed organic-inorganic polymers and their uses

  • Mixed organic-inorganic compounds are a distinct type of polymers used to manufacture non-stick utensils and non-stick sprays used in the rubber industry. Silicones are the most well-known members of this polymer family. Their backbone is made up of silicon and oxygen atoms alternated with organic groups linked to each silicon atom. Oils and greases are silicones with a low molecular weight. 


Commercially important polymers and their uses





Phenol and formaldehyde 

Used in manufacturing of switches, cooker handles, Mugs, Buckets 


Tetrafluoro ethylene

Non-stick cookwares 


Vinyl chloride

Used in manufacturing of raincoats, jackets, sports bags, making sewage pipes and other pipe applications


1,3-butadiene and styrene

It is used for making tyres, footwear components, cable insulation etc.

Natural rubber

Isoprene( 2-methyl 1,3-butadiene)

It is used in manufacturing automobile tyres, flooring carpets, kitchen, manufacturing gaskets etc.


1,3-butadiene and acrylonitrile 

It is used in the aeronautical and automotive industry to make fuel and oil handling hoses. 


Ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid

It is mainly used in making, ropes, nets, sheets etc.


Adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine 

Making fabrics for sportswear, clothing, combs, bristles of brushes etc. 

Melamine-formaldehyde resin

Melamine and formaldehyde

Used in making ceramic plastic materials. 



Electric insulation, garbage bags, plastic bags, bottles, toys etc. 



Used in making conveyor and seat belts, parachutes, airbags, nets etc



It is used for manufacturing ropes, tapes, camping equipment etc. 

Practice problems

Q 1. Cellulose is made up of:

a. Polynucleotides
b. Polyamides
c. Polysaccharides
d. Polypeptides

Answer: (C)
Cellulose is a polymer made up of sugar molecules, known as a polysaccharide.


Q 2. Which of the following polymers can be coloured in any shade and can be used in the manufacturing of toys and other plastic objects?

a. Polystyrene
b. Polypropylene
c. Polyethylene
d. Polyvinyl chloride

Answer: (A)
Polystyrene can be coloured in any shade and can be used in the manufacturing of toys and other plastic objects.

Q 3. Which of the following is not a property of nylon resins?

a. Heat resistance
b. Toxic
c. Abrasion resistance
d. Non-combustible

Answer: (B)
Nylon resins are strong, heat resistant, abrasion resistant, non-combustible, non-toxic, and can be coloured. It is mainly used in the manufacturing of mechanical parts, automobile parts, electronic components etc. 

Q 4. Select the correct option to identify the polymer used in the preparation of nylon thread? 

a. Polyamide polymer
b. Polyester polymer
c.  Polyethylene polymer
d.  Polyvinyl polymer

Answer: (A)
Nylon thread is prepared from polyamide polymer that contains amide linkage and is used to prepare nylon thread because of its properties like durability and remarkable strength. Few uses of nylon thread include the manufacturing of luggage suitcases, purses, clothing etc.

Frequently asked questions-FAQs

Q 1. What are fibres and give some examples of polymers acting as fibres?
These are the polymers in which comparatively stronger forces of attraction like hydrogen bonds are present because of this it has high tensile strength and is the least elastic in nature. Some examples of polymers acting as fibres include polyamides (nylon-6, nylon-6,6 etc) and polyesters (terylene).

Q 2. What is the difference between elastomers and thermosetting plastics in terms of their properties?
Elastomers have a weak van der Waals force of attraction and due to which it can be stretched up to ten times its original length and when force is removed it can regain its original shape like in the case of rubber. Whereas, thermosetting plastics are heavily branched and form 3-D network solid which on heating gets converted into infusible mass and cannot be reused like in the case of bakelite

Q 3. What are fluoropolymers?
Fluoropolymers are fluorocarbon-containing polymers composed of very stable carbon-fluorine linkages that make the molecule resistant to solvents. The non-stick properties of fluoropolymers are further enhanced by carbon-fluorine bonding, as seen most prominently in polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), popularly known as Teflon.


Q 4. What are the important characteristics and properties of polymer?
Few important characteristics of polymer includes resistance to chemicals, electric insulation, thermal insulation, an endless range of colour and features, light in mass a yet durable and powerful, and low cost which makes them commercially useful. These polymers are used to make plastics, fibres, adhesives, coatings etc. 

Related topics

Classification of polymer

Condensation polymerisation

Addition polymerisation

Biodegradable Polymer

Molecular mass of polymer



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