Introduction to Plastics Engineering Technology (Online) - Course Description

Upcoming Offerings

  • TBA

Instructor: Brian Young

Fee: $850

Educational Goals: 

The ten-week online course will introduce the participant to fundamental concepts and properties of plastic materials and the influence of chemical structure on polymer properties. It will also introduce the participants to the primary types of plastic processes used in industry today. The participants will gain a better understanding of plastic materials and their importance in today's society.

Throughout the duration of the course, the participants will be taught:

  1. The common different polymerization processes used to make thermoplastic materials.
  2. The concept of molecular weight of polymers and the effect this has on material properties.
  3. The different types of bonding that occur in polymer materials and the effect his has on the material properties.
  4. Polymer morphology.
  5. Viscoelastic, time-dependent, and temperature-dependent behavior of polymer materials.
  6. The different families of plastic materials and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  7. Recycling and biodegradability of plastic materials and the effect on the plastics industry.
  8. The main plastic fabrication processes currently used in industry.

Who Should Attend: 

Among those who can benefit from this ten-week online seminar are operators, process and project engineers, manufacturing engineers, molding technicians, team leaders, designers, mold makers, and sales and marketing staff.

Course Outline: 

There are six modules that will be released at the beginning of the ten-week course. A tentative schedule is established below. You are welcome to work ahead, but only questions on the scheduled material will be answered unless special arrangements are made with the instructor. Questions on the course material should be posted on the course discussion board. Questions of a personal nature or concerning grading should be e-mailed to the instructor. Both posted questions and e-mails will be responded to within 24 hours during the week and 48 hours on weekends. Office hours will be established weekly where the instructor will be available to answer e-mails, phone calls, instant messages, etc.

Schedule
Week 1.................Module 1
Weeks 2 & 3.........Module 2
Weeks 3 & 4.........Module 3
Weeks 4 & 5.........Module 4
Weeks 6, 7 & 8.....Module 5
Weeks 9 & 10.......Module 6

The textbook used for this course is Materials Science of Polymers for Engineers, 2nd Edition, by Tim A. Osswald and Georg Menges; Hanser Gardner Publications; ISBN #1-56990-348-4.

Module 1:

Module 1 will provide a brief overview of plastic materials and discuss some of the issues surrounding plastic materials in today's society. It will also lead the student through some of the important events in the plastics industry which brought it to where it is today.

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to the Course will provide a very general overview of some of the topics that will be covered during this course.
  • Lesson 2: A Brief History of Plastics will cover some of the main highlights of the plastics industry up to this point.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • List several (>5) advantages of using plastic materials
  • List several (>3) disadvantages of using plastic materials
  • Define "Plastic" and "Polymer"
  • Understand the two methods the plastics industry uses to address the volume of plastic waste generated
  • List at least four historic events in the plastics industry and describe their significance

Module 2:

Module 2 will go into greater depth concerning the two main processes that are used to create plastic molecules. It will also cover different types of copolymers and the affect that side group arrangement can have on the material properties. The second lesson will cover how the length of the polymer chains can affect the material's properties due to the entanglement of those chains.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Name and explain the two primary means of creating polymers
  • Differentiate between different types of copolymers
  • Understand how branching and tacticity can affect the properties of a material
  • Understand the effect of molecular weight on material properties

Module 3:

Module 3 will discuss how the arrangement of the different atoms in the polymer chain along with the different types of bonding can affect the flexibility of the molecule which in turn affects how the material flows in both when melted and when in solid form. It will also cover how temperature and strain rate have the greatest effect on the viscoelasticity of a plastic material which is a fundamental concept in dealing with polymer materials. The last lesson will discuss how plastic materials flow differently than most other materials due to their long, thin shape and high viscosities.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Explain how polymer structure and the types of bonds affect the polymer properties
  • Be able to name and describe the two basic morphologies of thermoplastic materials
  • Describe how and why temperature and strain rate affect a plastic material's mechanical properties
  • Explain the non-Newtonian flow of plastics and why they flow differently than most other materials due to their long, thin form

Module 4:

When the average person is asked what plastic component is made of, the usual response is "plastic." This will not be an acceptable response from any of the students who complete Module 4. There are many different material families of thermoplastics and thermosets in existence and it is important for prospective plastics engineers to be able to distinguish between the properties, strengths and weaknesses of the different families.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Name the different material families and be able to provide applications of each in various industry fields
  • Name several (3-4) advantages and disadvantages of the various material families
  • Identify potential materials for a given application
  • Describe the difference between a commodity and an engineering plastic
  • Explain how the plastics industry is addressing the problem of sustainability in today's environment

Module 5:

Introduction

Thermoplastics have a wide variety of properties among the different material families, but we can further modify them and alter their properties with the addition of additives, fillers, and fibers. Many of today's applications with plastic materials would not be possible without some of these additives.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Name and describe the importance of several of the main material additives
  • Explain how the addition of additives will affect a material's properties
  • Describe the effect on a plastic's properties when fillers and fibers are added
  • List and explain several concerns that must be considered when additives, fillers and fibers are added to plastic materials

Module 6:

Module 6 will provide a brief overview of the major plastics processes. This module will show the basic operation of each process and the variations of that process. The advantages and disadvantages of each process will be explored.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Understand the basic operation of each process
  • Understand the key processing parameters
  • Understand several advantages of each process
  • Understand several disadvantages of each process
  • Understand how to identify parts made by each process