Monomers, intermediates and base polymers are starting raw materials or binders for the production of compounded resins, plastics and elastomers, paints or organic coatings, adhesives and sealants. A monomer is a small molecule that may become chemically bonded to other monomers to form a polymer. Examples of monomers include hydrocarbons such as the alkene and arene series. Hydrocarbon monomers such as styrene and ethene form polymers used in plastics such as polystyrene and polyethene. Other commercially important monomers include acrylic monomers such as acrylic acid, methyl methacrylate, and acrylamide. A reactive intermediate is a short-lived, high energy, highly reactive molecule formed during the polymer synthesis. When generated in a chemical reaction, reactive intermediates quickly convert into a more stable molecule. A base polymer refers to the starting material used for polymer synthesis. Other types of monomers, intermediates and base polymers are also available.
Monomers, intermediates and base polymers are the building blocks of polymers and plastics. They are used in many types of polymer synthesis. Polymers can have either a high molecular weight or a low molecular weight. A pre-polymer is a polymer of relatively low molecular weight, usually between that of a monomer and a final polymer or resin. A pre-polymer may be mixed with compounding additives, and is capable of being hardened by further polymerization during or after a forming process. Oligomers consist of a finite number of monomer units. In this way, they differ from polymers, which in principle can consist of an infinite number of monomers. Monomers, intermediates and base polymers are sometimes referred to as macromers because the molecules in polymers are relatively large in comparison to hydrocarbon molecules.
Monomers, intermediates, and base polymers are used in many different applications. Some products are used to make polymeric materials such as polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or polycarbonate. Others are used to fabricate polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or polystyrene (PS). Because monomers, intermediates and base polymers determine the shape and size of the polymers, product selection requires careful analysis.