Wait…That’s Plastic? (the Sequel)

5 more things you might not know are made with plastics. 

Those massive wind turbine blades

A wind turbine standing in a field. Many more turbines can be seen in the distance.

Wind power is on the rise. And those huge wind turbine blades typically are made of composites of plastics and other materials, creating an advanced matrix much stronger than each component could be on its own. They’re tough and lighter weight to catch the draft and create more energy. And they’re big. U.S. researchers are designing a new turbine that would be 100 feet taller than the Empire State Building.

Play sports? Check out your shoes.

Unusual low angle back view of a group of friends jogging outdoors on a summer afternoon with sun flare

When running, kicking, or jumping, most of us are doing that on cushioned plastic soles with durable plastic uppers and laces. Today’s high-tech, tricked out kicks keep getting lighter and lighter. And get this: Nike even uses recycled polyester plastic to make its lightweight Flyknit sneakers, diverting 182 million plastic bottles from landfills so far

Play golf? Your “woods” may be made with plastics.

A young male golfer is silhouetted as he swings against a background of blue sky and sunshine. Copy space on clear blue sky.

Aren’t those big drivers called “woods”? Uh, yeah, because the shafts historically were made from hickory wood. Lightweight reinforced plastics are now becoming prevalent in golf clubs. They can be swung faster, leading to greater club head speed… and maybe even a better chance at that hole-in-one?

 Drive a car? Your tires are (predominantly) plastics.

Black sports car on a mountain road.

“Aren’t they rubber?” you might be asking. Well, yes… predominately synthetic rubber. In other words: plastics (technically, elastomers). While early tires used to be made solely with rubber from rubber trees, today’s tires are made predominantly with “rubber” made in factories. The ingredients can be engineered to improve traction, gas mileage, longevity, etc. What’s next? Researchers recently modified an elastomer used to make tires so it can self repair. Tire, heal thyself!

Modern prosthetics

An athlete with a prosthetic leg running on the track.

Ever see the Paralympic Games? Brave athletes overcoming difficulties to compete in world-class competition. Lightweight, flexible prosthetics made with plastic composites can mimic the function of natural limbs, enabling these athletes to run, jump, compete – in ways not previously possible. Check out Paralympian John Register talk about his experience.

Plus, the Veterans Administration says the “total number of Veterans using prosthetics, sensory aids, and related services from VA has increased by more than 70 percent since 2000.” With record numbers of amputees returning from combat, the need for world-class modern prosthetics has never been greater.

And congratulations to the first combat amputee to reach the top of Mt. Everest!

Wind turbine blades, sneakers, golf clubs, car tires, prosthetics… Surprised?

See the original list of 6 things you might not know are made with plastics… and the Sports Editionplus, the Great Outdoors Edition