Polymer structures are multiple single substructures. Whereas the word “plastic” does not really symbolize the value of the specialized materials, many people still underestimate the importance of choosing the vessel type with the correct polymer-material.
In molecular biology and related fields, polymer-based vessels pretty much outranged the glass vessels. This is due to the volume needed (µL or mL instead of L) but also due to the contamination risk of glass vessels.
And for sure, anyone who has ever had to clean up a centrifuge after glass breakage is aware of the superior stability of polymer-structured vessels.
Polypropylene (PP) is a widely used thermoplastic polymer. The chemical structure is a chain of multiple C3H6 molecules. The material is resistant to many chemical solvents as well as acids and bases. Due to its structure, the vessels are very stable for centrifugal steps in the workflow. The thermal stability strongly depends on the tacticity of the molecule structure. In principle, temperatures above 130 °C may be critical.
In contrast to polystyrene or acrylic polymers, PP is translucent but not transparent.
Most of the vessels in the lab are made of PP, e.g. 1.5 mL tubes, 5.0 mL tubes, or the thin-walled 0.2 mL PCR tubes. Colored vessels like the amber tubes or two-colored 96-well PCR plates are created by using pigments during production.