"Space-Age Techno-Polymer"??


February 3, 2003, 06:02 PM
I have seen references to some plastic products, described as constructed with 'space-age technopolymers'.

Is this pretty much the same thing as plastic??

And is Kydex just a fancy way of saying plastic or is it space age and techno?

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February 3, 2003, 06:15 PM
If I'm gonna spend more than $40 on something, it has crossed that threshold into the world of POLYMER! My USP's...POLYMER, My Uncle Mikes' holster...PLASTIC. My son's Super Soaker 4000...:banghead: pseudo-polymer :neener:

Brad Johnson
February 3, 2003, 06:39 PM
"Plastic" is a term that covers a lot of territory, and is basically a non-description.

It would take far too long to go into great detail, but suffice it to say that there are literally hundreds of materials, including category after category of sub-variants, that are commonly called "plastic". All plastics are, by definition, a polymer. Calling them "space age" or "technically advanced" is all marketing hype. There are also specific formulations that have been patented and trademarked (like Kydex).

You would need the particular type of polymer - polypropylene, polyethylene, polyvinylchloride (PVC), polystyrene, etc. - to know the characteristics. Some are temp sensitive and will easily melt when heat is applied, while others are thermally stable after being formed and will not deform under heat (although they will still burn). Some are quite flexible, while others are very brittle. Some are as fragile as gossamer, while others are - pound for pound - stronger than steel. As with metal composites and alloys, you can add other substances (either in solution or as a matrix) to change the characteristics of the finished product.

A more familiar term that covers almost as much territory is the word "metal". Iron, gold, silver, aluminum, zinc, etc. are all commonly called metals, as are the infinite numbers and kinds of alloys (which may or may not include non-metallic materials). Saying that something is "metal" only tells you that the material is from a general category of substances. It tells you exactly zero about the properties of the substance in question. The same is true with the term "plastic".

You might want to search the web for a little history on polymers. From the earliest bakelite products to the highly advanced stuff being produced today, it's a thoroughly interesting subject.


February 3, 2003, 08:59 PM
Does anyone still use this term? It's been the space age for over 45 years.

February 3, 2003, 11:54 PM

Sort of like '21st century' this or that just means the stuff came out not later than two years ago.:rolleyes:

February 4, 2003, 12:04 AM
Space-Age technology? Sort of like Tang and velcro?

February 4, 2003, 01:00 AM
Brad's got it.

Too, the methods used in the processing can make a tremendous difference in the final products' characteristics.

Polypropylene, fer instance can turn out to be one of those 2-liter clear Coke bottles or a nice comfy capilene vest - same stuff.

I agree that "space-age" is as worn out at 21st Century - used to be, but no longer (but I guess 21st century is apt - except for marketing anymore) ...

Between "plastics" & ceramics, I'd bet won't be too long before a lot of "metals" are obsolete for a bunch more stuff.

February 4, 2003, 01:02 AM
does anyone know what polymer is used for handguns?

February 4, 2003, 09:38 AM

Isn't that what Wallace used to make his Techno-Trousers with? :D

February 4, 2003, 10:03 AM
does anyone know what polymer is used for handguns?

Tactical polymer no doubt.

Oleg Volk
February 4, 2003, 10:44 AM
space-age = made after 1950s.
techno-polymers = opposite of agro-monomers ?

And for bonus points, ask the talking head to explain what polymers are.

February 4, 2003, 10:58 AM
ask the talking head to explain what polymers are

poly - meaning many.....aaaaa.....many - mers? :scrutiny:

Sorry, I couldn't resist :D

February 4, 2003, 11:07 AM
Suffice it to be that if you have to ask ....

Sructures are like a musical score. One cannot explain without playing.


February 4, 2003, 11:20 AM
does anyone know what polymer is used for handguns?

Most (if not all) of the plastic formulas used in guns are a closely guarded trade secret. My dad works in a chemical plant and has access to all kinds of neat toys to figure this stuff out. If anyone is willing to donate a "sample" of their frame I can submit it for testing. :D

February 4, 2003, 01:18 PM
Is carbon fiber a polymer?

February 4, 2003, 01:51 PM
Nope, carbon fiber is a composite, meaning it's made up of more than one thing.

February 4, 2003, 01:57 PM

As if anything other than element(ary) isn't?

Brad Johnson
February 4, 2003, 03:38 PM
"Carbon fiber" sounds catchy and high-tech, but is just an advanced form of the old fiberglass composites. Although touted as some kind of "wonder stuff", it's no more than a thoughtful application of more advanced materials to a known production technique.

In fiberglass you use a multi-layer sandwich of mats made from woven glass fibers (imagine that!) and coatings of epoxy resin. Carbon fiber is made the same way, except you use mats woven from strands of carbon-containing polymers. In fact, the fibers are not all that dissimilar to those used in the cores of suppression-type spark plug wires.

You can make sheets of filler material from just about anything - sheets of glass- and carbon-fiber are just the most common. I guess you could even use a cotton bedsheet if you just thought you had to. The only limitation is that the material has to be resistant to the solvents and chemicals in the epoxy, and to the intense heat used in most commercial curing processes.


February 4, 2003, 06:13 PM
Space-age = OLD technology. :D

February 4, 2003, 06:33 PM
"Carbon fiber" sounds catchy and high-tech, but is just an advanced form of the old fiberglass composites.

Well it looks nifty and that's what counts ;)

February 4, 2003, 09:30 PM
it's a thoroughly interesting subject.

Sure is, might I venture to guess you have a degree in engineering, perhaps of the chemical type? I ask because that's one of my majors (with a focus on materials engineering) Still trying to meet others, but they are very few and far between.

February 5, 2003, 01:12 PM
Carbon fiber by itself is a polymer. It starts out as a polymer feedstock, the most commonly used being polyacrylonitrile (PAN), and is processed in such a way to form carbon to carbon matrices. The strand length can be made short or long. It is when these strands (woven or not) or whiskers are combined or blended into other materials like other polymers/plastics/resins to be used as reinforcing filler that they are known as composites.

Brad Johnson
February 5, 2003, 02:14 PM
I venture to guess you have a degree in engineering, perhaps of the chemical type?

Nope, but thanks for the compliment! I'm a real estate agent with an interest in the sciences. I'm one of those wierdos that reads the encyclopedia for fun!

Seriously, my local library has a pretty good science section. I visit it often, and I do a lot of reading and research to try and keep up with current technology.


p.s. - Ron V. Thanks for the clarification. I re-read my prior post and edited it out the boo-boo. -Brad

February 5, 2003, 05:28 PM
Mostly Nylons, of the "ST" variety

Don Gwinn
February 6, 2003, 10:08 AM
Think of "polymer" more as a shape than as a type of material. Carbon can be formed into polymers, but you can't determine that something is carbon and say "aha! It's a polymer!"

Polymers, as I understand it (and I may not) are teeny, tiny, microscopic strands of the chose material. Thus a piece of "plastic" like Nylon is made up of millions of these little strands all overlayed and crossed with each other. That's what makes it flexible yet relatively tough. It gives the material some of the attributes of a fluid but allows it to hold together like a solid. That's why a material like silly putty flows and deforms like a fluid but bounces like a solid. The polymers loosen from each other and allow it to flow when there's no pressure on them, like a mass of spaghetti flowing out of a pot. But like the spaghetti, they don't separate, so the front of the mass pulls the back with it like a solid. When you fling it against the wall, the polymers are compacted against each other by the force and it bounces back like a solid piece of rubber.

"Solid" plastics employ the same principles but with variations in the stiffness and density of the polymers.

(When I was in junior high, I did a science project on "Non-Newtonian Fluids." This is the result of that project and a couple of chemistry classes, so it may all be wrong.)

February 6, 2003, 02:00 PM
& then there's Buckey balls. ;)

February 6, 2003, 02:09 PM
Pretty good Don. But, keep in mind that not all polymers are dilatant (shear thickening) like Silly Putty®. IIRC, most are pseudo-plastic (shear thinning).

[By the way, you can purchase Silly Putty® in bulk 5 pound globs in different colors today.]

Also, not all polymers are carbon based.

February 6, 2003, 07:07 PM
I do't think bucky balls are a polymer.

February 6, 2003, 07:19 PM
"I do't think bucky balls are a polymer."

Nope, just a structure.

Figured while we're talking "stuff," might at well talk more of it.

Thass all. ;)

February 6, 2003, 07:26 PM
it's a thoroughly interesting subject.

It is when you put it that way!

Nice post!

February 6, 2003, 07:52 PM
'space-age technopolymers' is to the plastics industry as 'tactical' is to the firearms industry.

Buzzwords, one and all.

Now, if you'd like some genuine imitation naughahyde, we could be in business.

Brad Johnson
February 6, 2003, 08:31 PM
That naughahyde remark reminded me of a sticker that Radio Shack used to put on their cheap speaker line (you know, the ones covered in a plastic veneer with a woodgrain print)

"Genuine Simulated Wood"


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