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New Performance Plastics Making Metals Obsolete

New Performance Plastics Making Metals Obsolete

Metals have been around for a very long time

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 High Quality Performance Plastics are replacing Metals

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.

Best Methods To Pick The Proper Plastic Sheet Materials

Best Methods To Pick The Proper Plastic Sheet Materials

Best Tools To Assist In Your Plastic Sheet Search

Use the best available tools to narrow down the best plastic sheet material for your application.

What are the best methods to pick the proper plastic sheet material?
Use the tools that the professionals use to find the best plastic material for your application.

Where To Begin

The process of picking the proper plastic material starts with determining the ‘must have’ physical properties needed for your application. Designing a part with the minimum performance factors in mind will help to eliminate an overly
expensive part.

Critical factors to consider are:

  • Temperature requirements (short term and long term)
  • Chemical or Environmental Requirements
  • UV resistance (Will it be in direct sunlight)
  • Color or Transparency
  • Strengths (Impact and Compression)
  • Compliance Issues (Certification for FDA, NSF, Dairy, etc.)

Review The Plastic Property Comparison Guide

The first tool suggested is a chart produced by the IAPD (International Association of Plastic Distribution – http://iapd.org/) linked in picture below, and listed on this chart are the most common plastic sheet and plastic rod materials that are commonly available. In addition, the chart compares the physical properties of these common plastic materials. Click on picture to access chart.IAPD Plastic Selection Rectangle Chart
Included in this chart is a relative cost comparison, which will assist in limiting the materials to proper plastics for a application without over-designing and using an expensive ‘over kill’ material. Some common plastic sheet materials can be very expensive. Materials like PEEK (PolyEtherEtherKetone) can be in the $100 per pound range or more.

Start Search With Temperature Resistance

After looking over the IAPD (International Association of Plastic Distribution) Physical Properties Chart above, now it is time to evaluate specifics for your application. The critical factors listed above are ranked by most important to least important. If your part needs to handle a continuous temperature of 300 degrees F, this is a critical physical property. Picking a material that softens at 250 degrees is a
recipe for disaster. Pick a material that can handle the temperature first.

Will Part Have Chemical Exposure

Next, look at environmental requirements. Parts exposed to chemicals are important to research. Find the chemical make up and the concentration of the chemical to insure the material you pick can handle this solution. Many plastics have excellent chemical resistance as evidenced by evaluating the container the chemicals are stored in already. A common plastic that is chemical resistant is Polypropylene, the same material used for automotive batteries. While Polypropylene and HDPE sheets are excellent in chemical resistance, their temperature range is quite limited. Also, these two plastics can not be easily bonded or glued, and would require heat welding for assembly.

Does Your Part Live In The Sun

Most plastics do not handle long exposure to direct sunlight without an additional UV additive. The one exception is Acrylic, which is the most UV resistant plastic sheet available. Some plastics handle UV well if they have a carbon black additive, or a extra UV package added at time of production.

How Critical Is The Color

The most common colors in many plastic sheets are Natural (white to tan) and Black. While other colors are available with a special run, this may require a large minimum order. Some plastics, like HDPE are available in many colors and textures for use in marine, playground and food processing applications. In many plastic applications, a machined part is being made, and the color is the least important factor. If it is an internal part of a machine, no one really cares about the color of the part. Some clients look for materials in a specific color to help ‘brand’ their parts for easy replacement and identification.

Nylon with huge amount of stress, cooled too quickly

Nylon with huge amount of stress, cooled too quickly.

How Much Stress Will The Part See

Strength is a wide range of physical properties covering many stresses a part may be exposed to. From impact to compression, expansion to tensile strength, all of these can be critical in designing a plastic part. There are other factors in the ‘Strength’ realm, like Notched Izod and water absorption. If your part will be exposed to crushing pressure, pulling apart force or impact, these are critical things to consider prior to picking your plastic part.

PTFE is a soft and slippery plastic, but will ‘cold flow’ under high pressure, and High Pressure Laminates like G-10 FR 4 sheet can withstand some of the highest pressures. The Notched Izod tests for materials that break easily if a scored mark has been made in the surface. Acrylics break very easily if scored, but UHMW will not break at all under the same test.

What Agency Approval May Be Required

In many applications a part may require approval or testing to meet a third party certification. One such common application is for materials in food processing applications. Common requests included UL ratings, Fire Ratings, Military specifications and many more. Food contact is a popular request, covering material that is either FDA (Food and Drug Administration) or NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) approved. These agencies insure that materials are rigorously tested and comply with their requirements for safety. Some common materials used in food processing that meet the FDA certification are Acetal Copolymer – Acetal Homopolymer, HDPE, UHMW and Nylon, plus many others.
Once these steps have been completed, several materials should present themselves as meeting your criteria and physical property requirement. Unfortunately there is no one perfect plastic that works in all applications. However, for almost every application, there is a material that will work, and work better than most other substrates.

Cool Online Tool

There is also an additional tool that can be used to help identify some of these properties quickly, the Gehr Plastic Selector online application.

If you are still in need of assistance in identifying an appropriate plastic material, contact an experienced Plasticologist at Industrial Plastic Supply, Inc. – call 866-832-9315

Also see the article, New Methods To Pick Proper Plastic Sheet Materials, for additional information on this subject.

Demands for recycled plastic sheet greater than current supply

Demands for recycled plastic sheet greater than current supply

More recycled plastic sheet is needed to fill demand

The plastic industry struggles with bad press over greater amounts of plastic in the land fills and oceans. This is understandable when the quantity of plastic products has skyrocketed. One of the biggest offender This is the logo for Recycled HDPE materialsis the common shopping grocery sack. Most plastic materials are recyclable, and the demand has grown much faster than the supply, as industrial manufacturers are searching for recycled materials to use in their products.

Here is a recent article discussing the problem of plastic bag bans in more detail, “Manage waste right, don’t penalize small vendors“. Here is another article discussing the problem isn’t the plastics, “It’s Not About The Plastics, It’s About The People”.

What else is being done to ease this supply line shortage and the increase of recycling? Read more here…

Recycled resin demand drives support for EPR

By Mike Verespej| PLASTICS NEWS STAFF

Posted May 22, 2012

WASHINGTON (May 22, 10:35 a.m. ET) — With demand for recycled resins continuing to outstrip supply, the voices are getting louder — and more organized — for creating some sort of extended producer responsibility program to increase the recycling of packaging materials, plastics and otherwise.

In the past two months, an alliance of more than 30 public interest groups and other supporting organizations formed the Cradle² coalition to push for public policy changes that would make manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling the products and packaging they make.

“The broad implementation of EPR is still a long way off,” said Scott Mouw, recycling director for the state of North Carolina. “But these new advocacy groups for EPR are all reacting to the same thing. …(read more here)

The entire plastic supply chain has been affected. We receive calls regularly for our plastic materials, but clients want to know if they can get a recycled plastic sheet version. Most plastics we carry can be Have a question, look at our FAQ pagerecycled, but most don’t make it back into sheets or rods due to FDA and NSF requirements. The most popular plastic we carry that are available as a recycled product are Reprocessed UHMW Sheets and Rods and Repro HDPE. The HDPE is available as post consumer content from milk jugs and laundry soap containers. PTFE sheet is also available as a reprocessed product for applications where the high purity is not critical, just the heat or wear resistance would remain. 

Contact us for more information on the recycled plastic materials you may need.

Additional Information About Plastic Recycling and The Real Cause of Pollution Here.
Topic: Recycled plastic sheet, repro

Is Tuffak Polycarbonate The Strongest Plastic in Sheets?

Is Tuffak Polycarbonate The Strongest Plastic in Sheets?

What is the Strongest Plastic – Polycarbonate Sheet?

Many plastics are durable and have good impact strength. Acetal Copolymer – Acetal Homopolymer for example is a very durable and strong material, but compared to some other materials the impact strength is lower. The Acetal  is the best machining plastic around, it is used to make long lasting and good wearing parts for machines. Another great plastic that holds up to wear and tear is UHMW. With its high molecular weight and low friction resistance is ideal to take abuse over long periods of time. Plaskolite Tuffak Polycarbonate sheet for riot shields

However, one of the strongest materials in the plastic family is Polycarbonate. Commonly referred to Lexan® (SABIC) or Makrolon® (Bayer) Polycarbonate Sheets; Polycarbonate is by far one of the strongest (highest impact resistant) ­­­­­plastic materials, and is warranted against breakage. With its high impact strength, it is ideal for jobs were the ability to absorb abuse is a factor and in some cases may even need to save lives. A common material for high impact is Polycarbonate Sheet and Plate, but amazingly also Polycarbonate Rod.

Polycarbonate Sheets considered ‘unbreakable’.

Polycarbonate sheet is a valuable plastic due to its impact strength, temperature resistance and wide range of uses. It is commonly confused with Acrylic or Plexiglass which has similar properties but Polycarbonate is 25 times stronger and has a wider temperature range. Acrylic is better used for display purposes and is a brittle material. Polycarbonate is so strong that you can drill or hammer a nail right through it without breaking the material. It also can undergo large deformations without breaking while Acrylic cannot. Polycarbonate also can be used for electrical applications because it is a great insulator. It also has great safety properties due to it being flame retardant and because it has good heat resistance. Another way Polycarbonate exhibits its safety properties is through bullet resistant glass. Polycarbonate is the most commonly used material for bullet resistant glass, riot shields and face masks. In these situations, the Polycarbonate has a very high impact strength which is invaluable. It protects and saves lives and is able to stand up to abuse in dangerous situations.

Polycarbonate Has Many UsesTuffak Polycarbonate Sheet from Plaskolite

From audio CDs to Blu-ray discs, airplane canopies to protective eye gear, Polycarbonate is a great thermoplastic (a material that can be formed and returned to its original shape) material for many different applications. Because of its impact strength and wide range of uses, Polycarbonate makes an ideal material for those who need peace of mind when designing or fabricating and need it to hold up to abuse and be virtually unbreakable. Polycarbonate is one of the toughest plastic materials around and everyday new products are being made from it. Whether using it for electrical, optical or for its impact properties, Polycarbonate is an ideal choice for many plastic needs.

Polycarbonate sheet (Makrolon) is available from .032″ – .500″ thick

Polycarbonate Plate, Slab, Block is available up to 4.0″ thick

Polycarbonate Rods are available from .250″ – over 8″ diameter.

More information on the UL approval ratings of Polycarbonate Sheets Here.

Not all Polycarbonate Sheet or Plate meet all approval ratings. Zelux Polycarbonate Plate is available in a machine grade and an optical grade. Zelux Polycarbonate Rod is also available – as a machine grade rod – not optical.

Typical Polycarbonate Resin Properties:

General PropertyASTM TestTypical Value
Specific Gravity D7921.2
Tensile Strength YieldD6388,900 – 9,000
Tensile ModulusD638340,000
Izod Impact – NotchedD25612.0-16.0
Hardness – RockwellD785M70
Deflection Temp @ 264psiD648270
Deflection Temp @ 66 psiD648280
Co. Thermal ExpansionD6963.7X10-5

We stock a large variety of thickness and sheet sizes in Makrolon GP sheet. For more information on this or other plastic sheets, please call us at 866-832-9315 or click here to contact us.

Topic: Polycarbonate Sheet and Plate

Which Plastic Sheet or Rod To Use – How Do I Choose The Proper Plastic Materials

Which Plastic Sheet or Rod To Use – How Do I Choose The Proper Plastic Materials

Which Plastic Sheet or Rod Material is right for me?

Acetal Copolymer Sheet and Rod

Mechanical Acetal Sheet

This not an easy question to answer. Several different factors come into play when choosing the right plastic for your application. Temperature, strength, exposure to the elements and even time spent at elevated temperatures are just a few factors to consider when choosing the right plastic for a particular project or job.

Picking the right plastic for your application is critical for its success and longevity and needed to insure that the material doesn’t fail in critical situations. From the onset it may take a bit of time to choose the right plastic material, but will ultimately pay off in the long run. Simply choosing the cheapest plastic sheet or rod may spell disaster for your project.

Many plastics are resistant to chemical attacks. Some plastics however are not. Two examples of plastic that have low resistance to chemicals are Acetal Copolymer and Nylon. Acetal and Nylon are both a great machining plastics with excellent wear resistance and impact strength. However, when exposed to chlorine or alkaline they tend to become brittle which can cause failure and if used in such instances as plumbing, can lead to major problems such as flooding. Nylon does have good resistance to many chemicals but will degrade when exposed to acids especially sulfuric. A plastic that would work better for applications involving the use of chlorine or acids is UHMW. UHMW has some of the same properties as Acetal such as wear resistance, ease of machining and are both self lubricating. UHMW often is an alternative for Acetal and Nylon, especially when it comes to chemical attacks.

Many plastic sheet and rod materials to choose from

Another plastic that can fail if used in the wrong application is Acrylic. Acrylic is a great plastic for displays and decorative purposes and is a natural replacement for window glass. However, it is brittle and has very low impact strength as opposed to Polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a great plastic for impact strength, probably the best in the plastic family. It is 25 times stronger than

Large selection of Performance Plastic Sheet and Rod

Massive Selection of Performance Plastic Rod

Acrylic and this makes it ideal for bullet resistant glass and riot shields, while Acrylic would be useless for those critical jobs. However, Acrylic has better U.V. resistance than Polycarbonate Plastic Sheet which makes it better for use outdoors over longer periods of time because it is invisible to sunlight. Another plastic that cannot handle U.V. rays is Polypropylene. Polypropylene unlike Acetal has excellent chemical and moisture resistance. However, unlike Acrylic, it becomes brittle in sunlight and starts to craze or crack when exposed over a period of time while Acrylic would last many years longer. Even though Polypropylene is a very rigid and stiff material, with good impact and crack resistance, if exposed to the elements for a period of time, it will not retain its properties and a chemical chain reaction will cause the material to eventually fail. Polypropylene is great at handling chemicals and food applications which neither Acrylic nor Polycarbonate Sheet are well suited because for this application, because they don’t have good chemical resistance and the standard grades are not approved for handling food.

So many Plastic Sheet and Rod Choices

Because there are so many options, we invite you to do further research. One are would be the blog post ‘Pick The Proper Plastic Material‘, or even use the online tool ‘Gehr Plastic Selection Tool‘. There are over 60 standard plastic sheet materials that we stock, with many additional material that are available from our factories, contact us for help with your application.

These are just some examples of the differences between plastic resins and it is important to note that just because one plastic works for one application, it may not work for another. All factors must be considered and taken into account, maybe even some trial and error. This will insure that your project will go smoothly and will be able to last through many years of use, saving time, money and patience.

Contact us for more examples of materials and the differences between specific items. Also, we have a great tool to help you in choosing the proper plastic material for your application, check out our free Plastic Material Selector Guide. We would also welcome your email inquiries or call us at: 866-832-9315.