The history of metals is thought to have begun with the use of copper about 11,000 years ago. Gold, silver, iron, lead, and even some brass began to be used before the first known appearance of bronze in the 5th millennium BCE
Artifacts made of smelted iron have been found dating from about 3000 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. In those times, iron was a ceremonial metal; it was far too expensive to be used in everyday life. Metals are commonly very stiff, tough and strong. However, they are also generally quite heavy. Also, the cost to heat metal to production temperatures is extremely high, over 5 times that of Performance Plastic materials. When metals corrode they get smaller, and many can decompose to yield rust.
In comparison, plastics only were first made in the early 1900’s. The world’s first known fully synthetic plastic was bakelite (now days considered Phenolic), and was invented in New York in 1907 by Leo Baekeland who coined the term ‘plastics’. Since this date, thousands of chemists and material scientists have synthesized dozens of plastic base materials. Plastic materials are currently available in over 80 types, and each of these are molded or processed at slightly different temperatures. The wide range of performance plastic materials will allow you to choose the perfect material for your next application.
Some of The Advantages of New Performance Plastic Materials
New Higher Temperature Performance Plastic Materials
New Performance Plastic materials like Victrex 450g PEEK and Sabic Ultem 1000 have much higher use temperatures over previous performance plastic materials. The Ultem 1000 unfilled has a continual use temperature above 400 degrees F, while the newer Victrex 450g PEEK materials work well at 480 degrees F on a continuous basis. In addition to the higher temperatures, they are still food grade materials.
Most plastic materials can typically be molded in a temperature range of 400 to 600 degree F. While steel starts to melt at 2,500 degrees F. This is five times the temperature, meaning it takes 5 times the energy to convert steel instead of plastic. Lower temperatures equates to lower costs of production.
New Lower Weight Materials
The average plastic weighs just 20% of the average metal product. Many plastics have exceptional weight to strength ratios, meaning that for the weight of the product they are very strong. This low weight means much less raw materials and less impact on the environment if using plastics over metals. This results in lower cost to manufacture parts from plastics over metal.
For instance, new UV grades of HDPE or High Density Polyethylene are very light, with a density of just .96, so light it floats in water. And yet, this new UV grade of HDPE is a workhorse in the plastic market, and is used to replace wood and metals in outdoor furniture.
New Detectable Materials For Food Contact Approved
Most Performance Plastic materials were engineered to be food contact compliant, and in most cases FDA approved for food contact. With the increase in food recalls, finding the proper materials to ensure that our foods are safe is imperative. Materials like Acetal Copolymer, Acetal Homopolymer, Nylon, Ultem 1000 and Victrex 450g PEEK are all FDA approved for direct food contact.
Which Performance Plastic Will Work The Best
Here are some new performance plastic material grades that include additives to make these materials detectable during food processing. These newly released detectable products include Tecaform AH UD (copolymer acetal base), Tecapeek UD Blue (PEEK based) and Hydex 4101 UD Blue PBT – Polyester base). Each of these new performance plastic materials comes in Blue color to be detected by color sensors during food processing. The “UD” portion allows these materials to be detected by X-Ray and Metal Detection scanners in food processing production lines. Using these new detectable performance plastic materials in food processing plants can help to eliminate food contamination issues and massive food recalls.
Recent Rising Costs Of Transportation
Changes in transportation rules and regulations since 2018 have made shipping raw materials significantly more expensive. Weight, size restrictions and surcharges for longer packages have more than doubled in the last year.
This has made one of the most expensive components of materials reaching the marketplace is transportation costs, and over the last several years the costs of moving materials across the country has skyrocketed. Metals are heavy, and this weight makes many items very expensive to transport.
Each step in the production of a finished good generally involves shipping to the next step. Raw material converted into base material, then base material converted into usable shape. Later this shape is turned into a component or part. Each time there is a conversion, there normally is shipping to the next processor. Metal weight can limit the amount of metal that can be moved at one time, where plastics can ship up to five times more product per truckload.
With performance plastics, often the conversion in small factories that can be located near final assembly of components limits the amount of shipping of plastic parts. Also, due to the light weight of plastics, trucks can hold up to five times the amount of plastic over metals for shipping. Many plastic parts are made very close to where they will be consumed, cutting logistics fees. This five times the weight also translates to five times higher cost to ship metals. This reduction of transportation costs moves more profit to the bottom line.
New Performance Plastic Materials Eliminate Need For Lubrication
Often, on large metal parts or assemblies, grease ports are added to make lubricating the metal parts easy. Metal on metal parts will wear out very quickly, and therefore require regular service and lubrication.
Newly released performance plastic materials have made lubrication obsolete. One such material is a new compounded Nylon material, called Nylatech PVM has FDA approved oil additives. This new Cast Nylon material runs well for extended periods without external lubrication. This material runs quieter and smoother than previously used metal parts due to a much lower coefficient of friction, and requires no regular maintenance.
Another new grade of Performance Plastic material that is rated as ‘self-lubricating’, and have excellent wear resistance is Lub-X UHMW, which now makes curves in bottling plants move smoother, quieter and require no lubrication. These long wearing and high strength materials outperform most other substrate for low cost, high performance, low weight and self lubrication.
Each of these plastic advantages yield cost savings and long product life. Along with these new areas of advantage, Performance Plastics are 100% recyclable, and can be reprocessed into high strength parts again and again. The plastic recycling industry is still in its infancy, and as it becomes more adept at recycling and reusing valuable plastic materials, our planet and our pocket books will benefit.
While you can purchase a piece of plastic from many different suppliers, there are some significant differences between these suppliers. Some of the main differences are in the manufacturers and the materials that you get supplied.
We see a wide range of materials and some drastically inferior grades of materials being sold to clients. Some materials have been produced too quickly or cooled too quickly causing a very high stressed plastic piece. These high stressed materials will warp, twist or crack when they get heated or during cutting. This material on the right is a piece of highly stressed Nylon. While cutting the material, our new customer had to stop the saw due to the severe warping and binding of the saw by this material. This new client brought this 24″ long part, and asked if we would cut it for him. We bought this part from him as an excellent example of a high stress plastic. (We did cut a quality piece of material to solve his problem). Other things you should consider when choosing a quality plastic supplier:
Quality of Materials
Origin of Materials
In Stock Materials
Cutting – Converting Services
Longevity – How Long Have They Been In Business (We started in 1975)
Product Knowledge and Experience Equals Quality Plastic Suppliers
We believe that providing quality products is only part of our duty to you. You have intrusted us to help with your requirements, and we believe we should be good stewards of this trust, all part of being a quality plastic supplier. A plastic sheet supplier should advise you if the material you are looking for is the ‘wrong’ material. Acrylic does not do well at 450 degrees. Styrene does not make a good chemical tank. HDPE and PTFE do not bond. These and many more ‘land mines’ are things we help our clients with everyday. We have an experienced client support team (plastic experts), and we value the opportunity to assist our clients with this experience. Go ahead, ask us a question – that is why we have a “Ask A Plasticologist” page on our website.
If you need help, from what are the properties of Acetal, to temperature range on Ultem, please contact us.We look forward to assisting you and all our clients. Feel free to contact us with any questions, concerns or requests – call us at 866-832-9315 or e-mail us here.
A wide variety of plastics are available in sheet form.
The term: ‘Plastic Sheet‘ or ‘Plastic Sheets’ is more of a general statement covering over a hundred types of plastic materials and plastic products. Some of the most popular plastic materials made as a sheet are:
In addition to the wide range of plastic materials available as plastic sheet, most of these materials are also available as: thin gauge or film, strip, plate, block, slab and plastic panels. The thin gauge or film materials are frequently available with or without a pressure sensitive adhesive also called ‘tape’. Sheet in some materials is available over 4.0″ thick and perhaps as thick as 8.0″ thick in a few materials. The standard sheet size on most of our plastic sheets is either 24″ X 48″ or the larger 48″ X 96″ sheet size; although some materials are available as: 48″ X 120″, 60″ X 96″ or 72″ X 96″. Contact us with with questions on your required piece sizes, we are happy to provide plastic sheets cut to size.
While there are lots and lots of different materials available as plastic sheet, there may only be one or two materials that are right for your application. We want to assist with your search. If you need help choosing the proper plastic material for your application, check out our free Plastic Material Selector Guide. Also, feel free to contact us for further assistance. As a leading plastic sheet distributor since 1975, we feel that we are your best choice as your new plastic sheet and sheets supplier. Give us a call at 866-832-9315. Google+
You know how bad it is when you get stressed out, with all the day to day challenges and issues? Well, plastics get stressed too.
The process of producing plastics into sheet, rod and tube is a stressful manufacturing process.
Stress free plastic manufacturing
The process to make a plastic sheet, plastic rod or plastic tube requires the plastic resin to be heated to temperatures of 350° – 500º to get the resin to flow through the machines.
The material is then pushed through a die at high pressure.
This heat and pressure cause many stresses to affect the plastic material.
The cooling of the plastic shape is critical
If the plastic cools to quickly, the surface cools and the center is still very hot, this is a major cause of internal stress.
Processed to quickly and voids or cold spots cause poor quality sections.
Processed to slowly and materials burn in the die and visible burn spots appear on the surfaces – bad material
Proper speed provides homogeneous material that has cooled at a uniform rate through the sheet yields a very low stress sheet
The stresses from this production can be very significant and can ruin your parts. One common prevention method is to anneal or stress relieve the raw material prior to machining, and may require stress relieving during machining if large amounts of material are being removed. The stress relieving process is a slow heat and cool process, contact us for details on your material or project.
Here is an example of a highly stressed plastic sheet, it is 1.250″ thick glass filled nylon sheet. The manufacturer sent us this sample to show the ‘quality’ of their material. We attempted to cut off a strip to do some testing, and you can see the results. This material warped so much it stopped our saw! We never did buy anything from this supplier.
Compression Molded Plastic Sheet and Brownies…
Yes, you read that right, brownies. I still remember the wonderful smell of my Grandma’s house when she was baking her special 2″ thick brownies. The smell was great, but I also remember the critical timing in the oven. She would open the oven and peek in, and close it quickly so as not to let the heat out. Then, when they looked about right she would open the oven and slip a toothpick into the center of the pan and pull it out again slowly. I can remember asking, “Grandma, why do you put in the toothpick into the brownie?”. The answer was, that the outside cooks quicker than the inside, and it takes a while to get the brownies to cook all the way to the center.Then, when they were all cooked, I would have to wait while they cooled. And, sometimes, if I didn’t wait quite long enough, when I would take a bit the center would burn my tongue. Ouch!
The interesting thing is, that plastics are about the same. Most plastics have a very low co-efficient of thermal conductivity (that is sure a mouth-full), which means that heat and cold don’t travel through the plastics well. This means that it takes a while to ‘cook’ the plastic all the way through, and not just the surfaces. And, just like my brownie story, the plastics take a long time to cool. If the outside of the plastic cools much faster than the inside, then large amounts of stress develop.
The process of compression molding of the plastic sheets is ideal for eliminating stress. The sheets cook slowly, so the entire sheet, including the center, is heated to a uniform temperature. The temperature is held at temperature to insure a fully cooked sheet (you can’t use a toothpick here). Then, over several hours, the temperature of the sheet and the entire compression molding press is lowered very s-l-o-w-l-y. This allows the center of the sheet to cool at the same rate as the external surfaces, and this yields a very stress free sheet. The premier manufacturer of this high quality compression molded sheet is Westlake Plastics. We have been a master supplier of the Westlake Plastic materials for over 35 years.
What should you do to eliminate stress?
If you are experiencing problems with your plastic materials, such as twisting, warping, ‘potato chipping’ or any other sign of stress, contact us. It is probably not your fault. There are dozens of manufacturers that produce engineering and mechanical plastic shapes, they are not all the same. During the production of materials, the process should include a secondary annealing step to remove stress from the newly product. By removing all stress from the sheet or rod you are insured of a ‘clean slat’ before you start machining or finishing. We only provide materials from top rated manufacturers, we truly care about the materials you receive from us.
If you have been experiencing problems with the materials you are getting from other suppliers, let us know, we can help eliminate your stress problems. E-mail us or call us at: 866-832-9315
Today’s topic is all about industrial plastic sheet materials in flat sheet or sheets. Also known as plate, slab, strip and bar.
Most plastic materials are processed into sheets or rods. Rods are round, sheet is flat, square or rectangular. These two basic shapes are both generally extruded, although sheet can also be compression molded. Almost all plastic raw materials are available in sheet, and in a huge range of sizes. Most materials are available from .063″ to over 4″ in thickness; and some as thick as 8″ (how to measure thickness accurately, use a 6-Inch Digital Caliper with Extra-Large LCD). Sheet sizes vary, but generally most plastics are produced in 48″ X 96″ sheets or larger, but once again this changes with types of materials and thickness desired. We can help with almost any plastic material.
Need Help Picking a Plastic Sheet Material?
Deciding on the proper material for an application is the first step. Start by reviewing our Plastic Materials Selection Guide to help narrow your search. Having the key properties and needs of your project in mind will help you with this step. Also looking at both the pro’s and con’s of a material will assist in this search. Materials with the greatest property range can be extremely expensive, selecting a material that meets your needs and your budget should be considered.
Step two is researching sizes and availability – this is where we can really help. With most of the major manufacturers as partners, we are able to source your parts from many factories. While the quality from most factories is excellent, the variable is standard and custom sheet sizes. We also stock a wide variety of materials in large sheets. One of our many manufacturers is Westlake Plastics. They have been compression molding large sized sheets of many popular plastic resins; these sheets are available in 48″ X 120″ as a standard sheet size in most plastics. They produce these materials from .250″ – 3.0″ thick or thicker. Other manufacturers produce 24″ X 48″ or 48″ X 96″ sheets as standard. Please contact us for specifics on your material selection.
Most of our plastic resins are available as a sheet. This includes some of the most popular plastics, like: Polycarbonate Sheet, Acetal Sheet, PTFE Sheet, Ultem Sheet and dozens more. Sometimes, Plastic sheet is called: Plate, Strip, Bar, Slab, Block or Panel. Please think of these names as being synonyms with Plastic Sheet. Contact us with your special requirements.
In thicker gauges, plastics are frequently referred to as plate, slab or block. And strips or narrow pieces are called bar. A rose by any other name, call it what you will, the plastic starts as a flat sheet from the factory. We can cut them to size or shape. Blanking of sheets to useable sizes is our specialty. Narrow pieces used for long applications are normally called strip. Strip is common in wear type applications.
For a list of materials we have as standard stock materials, check our Plastic Sheets Page. These and many other plastic materials are available, and custom sizes, shapes and colors vary by base material. As a stocking distributor for dozens of major manufactures, we are the West Coasts leading plastic sheet supplier or distributor. If you are in need of some technical assistance go to our Plasticologist page for specific help.
Contact us for more information on plastic sheet materials. Email us or call 866-832-9315