Synthetic materials

Synthetic materials are chemical compounds that are manufactured using artificial chemical processes. Synthetic materials are raw materials consisting of very large molecules created through the synthesis of organic matter. ‘The chemistry of plastics’ is based on hydrocarbons extracted from crude oil in oil refineries. During the chemical synthesis these form either covalent or ionic bonds, creating an amorphous or crystalline substance.

Uses of synthetic materials

Synthetic materials have a broad range of applications.

Examples include:

  • Garden furniture
  • Tiles
  • Clothing
  • Packaging containers
  • Bottles
  • Pre-formed pond liners

Processing of synthetic materials

Thermoplastics are used in packaging, with manufacturing processes such as blow moulding (semi-opaque milk or juice containers at supermarkets), injection moulding (ice cube trays), extrusion (tubes and profiles), vacuum forming (flower pots, coffee cups) or rotational moulding (playground slides).

PVC is commonly used in synthetic window frames, for example. End-of-life windows are recycled and the resulting pellets may be used to create synthetic soil and water-retaining structures such as trench shorings and sheet piles.

Types of synthetic materials

  • There are three main types of synthetic materials:
  • Thermoplastics
  • Thermosets
  • Elastomers

Thermosets and elastomers can only be used for the manufacturing of a single product. Reheating these will result in decomposition.

Some synthetic materials are re-inforced using fibreglass or other, synthetic fibres such as Kevlar, Twaron or Dyneema.

Natural and synthetic polymers

Examples of natural polymers include cellulose, rubber and polylactic acid. Examples of synthetic polymers include aramid, bakelite, nylon, polyester, polythene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyethylene terephthalate glycol, polyisocyanurate, polymethyl methacrylate, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, polytetrafluorethylene and polycarbonate.


  • Light, super-strong and durable
  • No corrosion & oxidation resistant
  • Good heat insulation
  • Liquid-tight


  • Easy to use
  • Very strong, sustainable and maintance-free
  • Immediately in colour
  • Inserts are also glued in directly


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