The use of thermoplastic polymeric materials in structural applications is increasing. A good example is the all-plastic thermoplastic automotive bumper, made of unfilled nonreinforced thermoplastic resin, which is capable of withstanding an 8 kmph (5 mph) impact. The structural applications of such materials are expected to grow dramatically. These materials behave very differently from metals, and their use in load-bearing applications raises interesting mechanics issues that need to be addressed. This paper discusses some opportunities for new research directions in mechanics, which would impact the use of plastics in load-bearing applications.

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