Highly effective seminars and hands-on workshops held several times throughout the year

Fundamentals of Plastics: Commercial Polymeric Materials

3 Day Lecture/Workshop Offered Twice

Tuition: $1,350

  • January 9-11
    Professor Stephen Burke Driscoll
  • Registration for this seminar has closed.
  • June 5-7
    Professor Stephen Burke Driscoll
  • Registration for this seminar has closed.

For more information about registering, click here.


This program provides an overview of the different plastics, properties, processes, and applications of polymeric materials. Basic concepts in plastics materials are reviewed, starting with polymerization (feedstock availability & natural resources, monomer synthesis, reaction mechanisms, reactor design) through post-reactor modification and conversion. Attention will be devoted to physical properties and the role of structure and properties on processing behavior and functional performance. Market characteristics (volumes, manufacturers & trademarks, and pricing history) and comparative properties will be detailed. Individual materials such as commodity plastics, engineering resins, and specialty polymers will be contrasted for physical properties and processability. Workshops will be held in University laboratories to examine the major physical properties discussed during the classroom lectures.



  • Organic composition
  • Chain substitution
  • Polymer architecture (molecular weight, distribution, and branching)
  • Homogeneity
  • Reaction mechanisms
  • Polymerization guidelines
  • Marketing characteristics

Chemical Nature of Plastics

  • Thermoplastics vs. thermosetting resins
  • Aliphatic vs. aromatic polymers
  • Crystalline vs. amorphous resins

Structure-Property Relationships

  • MW effect on properties
  • Thermal transitions
  • Cross-linked structures
  • Blending & alloying
  • Factors influencing Tg and Tm, crystallinity & morphology

Physical Properties

  • Important role of various standards writing organizations
  • Influence of environmental conditions, e.g. temperature, relative humidity, testing rate on physical properties, and the significance of geometry
  • Molding conditions on test methods/data interpretation

Testing Activities

  • Hands-on exposure in University labs
  • Investigating selected physical properties (mechanical, thermal, chemical & rheological). Multiple sessions will be devoted to discussing the correct protocols, conducting actual tests, and interpreting the generated data. Other important test methods will be discussed/demonstrated.

Polymer Additives and Modifiers

  • Role of these important chemicals
  • Compatibility and influence on both processing and functional behavior