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Plastic explosive

Plastic explosive is a specialised form of explosive material. They are usually soft and hand malleable and have the added benefit of being usable over a wider temperature range then the pure explosive.

A number of new explosives were developed during and before WW II, notably RDX. Although effective, they were dangerously sensitive and needed impossibly careful handling. To reduce the sensitivity the explosive could be mixed with inert agents. The first efforts in wartime mixed the explosives with materials like beeswax, although possessing many of the properties of plastic explosive they were unpleasant to handle and degraded rapidly.

The first true plastic explosives emerged post-war, initially called polymer bonded explosives (PBXs), the explosive crystals were embedded in a polymer matrix such as polystyrene or nylon. The key to a useful explosive was found in the 1960s with the mixing of RDX with PETN and then adding binders and stabilizers, the resultant material was safer and easier to handle than traditional explosives and also held a greater charge per volume. Current binders are a range of oils, waxes and plasticizers such as polyisobutylene and di(2-ethylhexyl)sebacate the binder and plasticizer respectively in C-4.

Well-known varieties include C-4, Detasheet, PENO[?] and Semtex.

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