It became prominent extremely fast, as commercial production began barely 3 years after Italian chemist, Professor Giulio Natta, first polymerized it. Natta perfected and synthesized the first polypropylene resin in Spain in 1954, and the ability of polypropylene to crystallize created a lot of excitement.
By 1957, its popularity had exploded and widespread commercial production began across Europe. Today it is one of the most commonly produced plastics in the world. It is used in a variety of applications to include packaging for consumer products, plastic parts for various industries including the automotive industry, special devices like living hinges, and textiles
Some of the most significant properties of PP are:
- Chemical Resistance: Diluted bases and acids don’t react readily with PP, which makes it a good choice for containers of such liquids, such as cleaning agents, first-aid products, and more.
- Elasticity and Toughness: PP will act with elasticity over a certain range of deflection (like all materials), but it will also experience plastic deformation early on in the deformation process, so it is generally considered a "tough" material. Toughness is an engineering term which is defined as a material's ability to deform (plastically, not elastically) without breaking..
- Fatigue Resistance: PP retains its shape after a lot of torsion, bending, and/or flexing. This property is especially valuable for making living hinges.
- Insulation: PP has a very high resistance to electricity and is very useful for electronic components.
- Transmissivity: Although PP can be made transparent, it is normally produced to be naturally opaque in color.
The major end users of PP are the packaging industry, which consumes about 30% of the total, followed by the electrical and equipment manufacturing, which uses about 13% each. Household appliances and automotive industries both consume 10% each and construction materials follows with 5% of the market. Other applications together make up the rest of the global PP consumption.