Polydicyclopentadiene


For Polydicyclopentadiene at a glance, click here!

Polydicyclopentadiene is a polymer used to make really, really big things in one piece. And by big, I mean BIG. With polydicyclopentadiene you can make a whole tractor cab in one piece, or a whole satellite dish antenna. That's not good enough for you? Then how about a 1500 gallon storage tank for dangerous chemicals? With polydicyclopentadiene that's no problem. But the very first use for it was the cowlings of snowmobiles, again molded in one piece. This was because it has very good impact resistance at low temperatures, where a lot of other polymers become brittle.

Polydicyclopentadiene is made by a nifty reaction called ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) from the monomer endo-dicyclopentadiene. Click here if you want to see the monomer in 3-D.

But it's not done yet! There's a double bond left in the bottom ring, as you can see in the picture of polydicyclopentadiene. These can undergo vinyl polymerization, to give us a crosslinked thermoset material.

This thermoset is good stuff, but you can't mold a thermoset. So how do we make anything from it? The answer is to make it in chunks that are already shaped like we want them. The fancy name for this is called reaction injection molding or RIM for short. Put simply, we fill a mold full of the monomer, and polymerize it in the mold. That's how we can make products from thermosets.

Here are some other polymers used as thermosets:

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