What are some examples of mass structures

What are some examples of polymers?

A polymer is a large molecule made up of repeating subunits linked together by chemical bonds. Do you need some examples of polymers? Here is a list of materials that are natural and synthetic polymers, as well as some examples of materials that are not polymers at all.

Natural polymers

Polymers both occur naturally and are manufactured in laboratories. Natural polymers were used for their chemical properties long before they were understood in the chemistry lab: wool, leather, and flax were made into fibers to make clothing; Animal bones were boiled down to make glue. Natural polymers include:

  • Proteins such as hair, nails, tortoiseshell
  • Cellulose in paper and trees
  • Starches in plants like potatoes and corn
  • DNA
  • Pitch (also known as bitumen or tar)
  • Wool (a protein from animals)
  • Silk (a protein from insects)
  • Natural rubber and lacquer (proteins from trees)

Synthetic polymers

Polymers were first made by people looking for substitutes for natural ones, especially rubber and silk. Among the earliest were semi-synthetic polymers, which are natural polymers that have been modified in some way. By 1820, natural rubber was modified by making it more fluid. and cellulose nitrate, produced in 1846, was used first as an explosive and then as a hard malleable material in collars, Thomas Edison's film for films, and Hilaire de Chardonnet's rayon (called nitrocellulose).

Fully synthetic polymers include:

  • Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic
  • Neoprene (a manufactured form of rubber)
  • Nylon, polyester, rayon (manufactured forms of silk)
  • Polyethylene (plastic bags and storage containers)
  • Polystyrene (packaging of peanuts and styrofoam cups)
  • Teflon
  • Epoxy resins
  • silicone
  • Stupid putty
  • mucus


While paper plates, styrofoam cups, plastic bottles, and a block of wood are examples of polymers, there are some materials Not Polymers. Examples of materials that are not polymers include:

  • elements
  • Metals
  • Ionic compounds such as salt

Usually these materials form chemical bonds, but not the long chains that characterize polymers. There are exceptions. For example, graphene is a polymer made up of long carbon chains.

Resources and further reading

  • Cowie, J.M.G. and Valeria Arrighi. Polymers: Chemistry and Physics of Modern Materials, 3rd ed. Boca Raton, LA: CRC Press, 2007.
  • Sperling, Leslie H. "Introduction to Polymer Physical Science," 4th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.
  • Young, Robert J., and Peter A. Lovell. "Introduction to Polymers," 3rd Ed. Boca Raton, LA: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2011. Print.