Is HDPE Sheet and Acetal Homopolymer Sheet the same?
Here is another popular question asked by our clients. Is HDPE the same as Acetal Copolymer / Delrin Acetal Homopolymer? No, they are two totally different materials. Although the natural color of both is a milky white to opaque white, and they do look a bit similar, they are not. (HDPE is milky white to almost translucent depending on thickness, and the Acetal materials are a more opaque white to slightly milky – once again depending on thickness . See picture below of .500″ thick samples of HDPE and Acetal sheets)
HDPE and Acetal – Some Differences
The HDPE sheet and rod is a softer material, and is commonly known for its FDA certification and used in numerous food applications, such as: one gallon milk jugs, cutting boards, colored water glasses/cups, and many, many more. While it can be machined, because it is a bit softer and lighter, the tolerances it can be machined to are not very tight. It is not bondable, so it makes a great non-stick surface for sticky foods and adhesives.
The Acetal Copolymer and the premium Delrin® Acetal Homopolymer also have FDA certification, and are used heavily in the food processing industry. This material is a more mechanical material and is used in bearing and wear applications, cams, feeder screws, etc. This material is can be machined to tight tolerances, and will wear for long periods without lubrication. Due to its exceptional wear properties, it is not bondable, thus requiring mechanical fastening or threads to assemble. It has a very low water absorption, and you will find it in your toilet tank as the white moving parts in the filler mechanism. It is an extremely popular material for machinists, as it works much like soft brass.
While HDPE Sheet and Acetal Sheet look similar, they perform quite a bit differently.
While both materials are FDA approved, are machinable and can be used to make rigid wear resistant parts, they are two different resins and have drastically different physical properties. Another major difference is in the weight of these items, HDPE sheet and rod material weighs about 35% less than the Acetal sheet and rod material. Please check the data sheets for more information to assist in proper material selection.Acetal Data Sheet and HDPE Sheet Data
Acetal is commonly known as: Delrin Homopolymer Acetal, Tecaform AH,Ensital, Unital, Pomalux, Ultraform and many more.
HDPE is also known as: Ultraethylux,Densetec, Polystone G, Fortiflex, Versadur, Hostalen, and many more.
Acetal Copolymer and ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Stryene) have some similar properties but are really very different materials. They similarities are: high impact strength, ease of machining with standard cutting tools and good mechanical properties. They are also both FDA compliant and are both good substitutes for brass. They also have great water absorption resistance and good electrical properties. Both materials are good for some of the same applications but certainly not all. Listed below are some of the major differences.
ABS Sheet and Rod Information
ABS comes as Natural (straw) and Black color in Plate, Slab, Sheets and Rods, and thin sheet (.040″ – .250″) it is available as White or Black with a textured surface one side. It can be cut from 48″ X 96″ sheets into strip, panels or pieces.
ABS is formable. ABS is a great thermo-formable material while Acetal is not. Acetal is used more for machined parts such as gears and screws. ABS is great for molding and shaping parts from vacuum to heat forming. Excellent for model building and prototype projects.
ABS is easily bondable (similar to PVC). ABS can be bonded or welded to itself. Because Acetal is self lubricating, it is not possible for anything to stick to it unless etching is done – therefor it is not bondable.
ABS is a great material for painting and silk screening. While Acetal can not be painted or silk screened unless it has undergone Corona Treating (a flame surface treatment), but if treated will nice paint or screened surface.
ABS has better chemical resistance than Acetals. Both are attacked by acids like sulfuric, but ABS has a wider range of resistance to chemicals like aqueous acids, alkaline and alcohol. Acetal will degrade when exposed to such chemicals as chlorine and alkalines.
Specialty grades of ABS are available, including: Glass Filled, Static Dissapating, and Fire Retardant Grades (like Royalite – R59)
Acetal Copolymer and Homopolymer Sheet and Rod Information
Acetal is the better machining plastic, considered the best machining plastic material. Because of its durability and wear resistance, Acetal is an excellent choice for producing a wide variety of parts that require high wear resistance over a wide period of time. When machining to tight and specific tolerances, Acetal is ideal.
Acetal has low co-efficient of friction. Due to its self lubricating properties, it is a great material for sliding and wear applications. This material provides years of maintenance free bushings and bearings.
Acetal sheet is produced from .062″ – over 6″ thick and sheet sizes of up to 48″ X 120″ as standard. The standard color for Acetal and Delrin is Natural (a deep milky white) and Black. Some colors are available as Medical Grade, and can be obtained in limited sizes. These sheet are available cut to: slabs, blocks, plates, slabs and blocks.
Acetal (Polyoxymethylene) can be both a homopolymer and a copolymer. The homopolymer acetal has a repeating chain of one atom while the Acetal copolymer has two atoms forming a repeating chain. Dupont™ Delrin® is a popular acetal homopolymer brand name and the most commonly used acetal homopolymer.
Acetal – Delrin Properties Table
Typical Value Unfilled Homo-Polymer
Typical Value Unfilled Co-Polymer
Tensile Strength Yield
9,600 – 11,000
9,000 – 10,200
Izod Impact – Notched
Hardness – Rockwell
Deflection Temp @ 264psi
Deflection Temp @ 66 psi
Water Absorption @ 24 hrs
Co. Thermal Expansion
ABS and Acetal – Similar, but very different materials
Both of these materials possess excellent qualities and have a wide range of different uses. Acetal is great for machining, while ABS is great for forming and bonding. They both can be used for machined parts and are great choices for food contact and electrical applications. These two materials are both strong and durable plastics, but one might be better than the other for a specific job. When picking the right plastic, it is important to compare plastics and their specific properties to make sure the material won’t fail and that your job will be successful.
Contact us for additional information, call us at 866-832-9315 or contact us here. Consider Industrial Plastic Supply for all your plastic needs, we want to be your go-to plastic supplier.
**Note: Delrin® is a registered Trademark of Dupont