Tips for Selecting the Right Plastic for Your Project

August 28, 2018 9:16 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

When it comes to choosing the type of plastic that will best suit the needs of your project, as you may have already discovered, there is more than one option. In fact, there are thousands of plastic materials available for plastic product manufacturing. They all have their pros and cons depending on the specific application of your plastic part or project. The good news is that most types of engineering plastics are graced with advanced manufacturing properties that offer higher levels of durability and protection during the manufacturing process.

Don’t worry if your head is spinning right now—you’re not alone! If you’re new to plastic fabrication in Utah, read on for tips for selecting the right plastic for your project.

Know about mechanical parts

Nylon, also called polyamide (PA), is a common resin used to make mechanical parts. Using nylon-to-nylon gear trains is not recommended due to similar plastics’ tendency to stick together. PA is resistant to wear and abrasion and contains good mechanical properties when temperatures are high. And while nylon is sought after as a filament for 3D plastic printing, it absorbs water over time.

Another option for mechanical parts is polyoxymethylene (POM), which is a resin used to make plastic for parts like gears, wheels and screws. POM is strong, stiff, hard and has flexural strength, but can degrade with alkali, hot water and chlorine and is often a challenge to bond together.

Be serious about food storage containers

If you’re designing and producing plastic containers for food storage, consider choosing polypropylene (PP). PP is frequently used for food containers because it is resistant to heat, blocks out oils and solvents and doesn’t leach chemicals. All this makes containers made of PP food safe. PP can survive hard impacts and can be bent repeatedly and not break.

The most common plastic is a material called polyethylene (PE), which is low strength, rigid and hard. This yields a plastic milky white in color often seen in plastic medicine bottles, milk jugs and liquid soap and detergent containers. PE is resistant to many types of chemicals, and also has a low melting point.

You might need to use rubber

If your project calls for injection molding of resins, it likely needs a resin that is soft with elastic properties—this would be rubber. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is recommended, as there are many formulas able to reach high elasticity, durability and low-temperature performance. TPU is used in the creation of a variety of power tools, sporting goods, cable insulation and more. However, keep in mind that it can easily absorb moisture from the air, which sometimes makes it difficult to process during manufacturing.

Know when you need transparent parts

When your project requires clear lenses or windows, acrylic is your best option. This is the material used to make shatterproof surfaces like Plexiglass. It has proven tensile strength and takes a high polish, but is less impact and chemical resistant than polycarbonate (PC). If your project requires a stronger transparent material, choose PC.

Contact D&D Plastics to learn more about the varieties of plastic that can be used during plastic fabrication in Utah!

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