Polymer materials are very versatile, but can they do everything?

The k-online editorial staff were struck by a recent dpa report. Although we were, on the one hand, delighted to see how much faith people have in plastics, we were, on the other hand, concerned by how thoughtlessly the material is used.

The Deutsche Presseagentur published the following report at the beginning of July: a 46-year-old man had been driving a car through Hückeswagen in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany using a plastic bucket as a seat. The bucket tipped over, the man lost control of his car and ran into a parked car. When the police arrived, they were astonished to find that the man had not just replaced the driver’s seat by a plastic bucket; apart from that, there was nothing else inside the car.

It goes without saying that plastics simply are more interesting, more functional and – in a nutshell – better than conventional materials in many applications. Plastics are compositions that can be created from the inside to the outside to meet customised needs. They can be flexible or rigid, extremely soft or impact-resistant. They can withstand pressure levels at which other materials would burst and they can be manufactured at lower cost in most cases too.

In addition to this, plastics can be produced to have practically any shape – an advantage that designers in particular appreciate. All in all: depending on the requirements and the application, plastics are often the more attractive alternative – on one condition: when they are designed, produced and used to satisfy the demands of specific applications. Which brings us back to the press report:

Quelle: istockphoto

Plastic buckets are designed to collect, store and transport liquid and free-flowing materials. You can make music with it and plastic buckets is also a very helpful thing in clean-up house and car. If there are no other options, it is possible to sit on an empty bucket after it has been turned upside down. When nothing else is available to sit on and the floor is soaking wet, there is no doubt that a plastic bucket is a most welcome seat, even though the bottom of a bucket is not designed to support the bottom of a human being. Not to mention the fact that it is difficult not to look rather foolish squatting on such a makeshift seat.

Under no circumstances whatsoever, however, should even the greatest of plastic lovers use a plastic bucket as a car seat. Not only because it is so uncomfortable and there are more than enough plastic-based car seats with all sorts of ingenious extras. But also because the classic plastic bucket does not have the vital safety features: a back and head rest and facilities to attach a seat belt. Or is someone somewhere cooking up plans for this, perhaps? After all, it is a well-known fact that there is no end to the creativity of polymer materials and the people who work with them. GDeußing