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Engineering and Technology

September 19th, 1980

Invited paper in the proceedings of the Royal Society of Chemistry, SPR Macromolecular Chemistry 1 331-350, in 1980.

S F Bush


This Chapter is written for chemists and others seeking an idea of where recent developments in macromolecular chemistry have influenced, or are likely to influence, technological outcomes. Outcomes here embraces not only what has been done recently, but also what could be done and what would be desirable.

The past 20 years, and particularly the past 10, have seen an enormous expansion in the variety of applications of polymeric materials, to such an extent that a survey of the technological implications of polymer chemistry is potentially a survey of all technology. Any review must then be highly selective. The selection of developments for this chapter was inevitably based on a personal estimate of some of the things which are interesting and important, bearing in mind the economic factor.

The outline structure adopted for this Report is then as follows. The basic macromolecular understanding is seen to influence three technological sub-divisions: (a) Final state properties, (b) Processes, and (c) Systems. While the sub-divisions are not hard and fast, developments under these headings are mainly assigned to Sections 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Section 5 is devoted to a short summary of the technological needs pinpointed in the preceding sections which might influence the direction of macromolecular research. In the remainder of this section, the type of material covered under the three technolotical sub-divisions is briefly outlined as a lead-in to the Reports themselves.