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The Possible Downsides of ULTEM™

The Possible Downsides of ULTEM™

In a previous post, we explored the advantages of Sabic Ultem™, the trademarked name for a special type of high-performance plastic that is often the go-to choice for any industry in need of exceptional physical properties in a thermoplastic. With Ultem™ polyetherimide resins, this type of plastic can retain its mechanical properties even at extremely high temperatures, which is especially important in applications that require good structural integrity under harsh conditions–aerospace and automotive applications for example. 

Why is ULTEM™ so popular?

This material is known for its excellent mechanical properties, dimensional stability, as well as chemical and temperature resistance. Because of these properties, Ultem™ has been used widely and with success in many different industries, such as aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, medical equipment, electronics, and industrial equipment. There are, however, a few disadvantages to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to use Ultem™ for your manufacturing project.

Sabic Ultem 1000 and Ultem 2300 are excellent performance plastic materials

Sabic Ultem 1000 and 2300 sheet and rod

A few disadvantages of using ULTEM™

Also, the polyetherimide thermoplastic can be vulnerable to stress cracking if exposed to polar chlorinated solvents. This can restrict its use in certain applications.

In addition, while Ultem™ is a very high performance thermoplastic, it does tend to be more expensive compared to similar materials and can be difficult to process due to its high melting point and viscosity. For optimal results, you may need to use specialized equipment or work with someone specialized in working with this thermoplastic, which could drive up production costs even more. If the material is not properly controlled during manufacturing, Ultem™ plastic parts can experience surface defects or cracks as well as dimensional instability. If large amounts of material are removed during machining, parts should be annealed after production to prevent warp and twist. Proper quality control needs to be in place to avoid these problems. 

Looking for a supplier of high performance thermoplastics?

Industrial Plastic Supply, Inc. has been supplying performance plastic sheet, rod, and tube since 1975, and specializes in wholesale Engineering Plastics, Mechanical Plastics, and High Performance Plastics for a wide range of industries. Check out our website to learn more!

Is Ultem™ the Ultimate Performance Plastic?

Is Ultem™ the Ultimate Performance Plastic?

The Advantages of Using ULTEM™

Industrial Plastic Supply has a large inventory of performance plastic materials to offer, each with its own unique advantages and applications. In this article, we feature one of the many quality performance plastics that we supply, Sabic ULTEM™ sheet and rod.

Sabic ULTEM® is the brand name for the thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI), this unique commercially available resin has the ability to retain mechanical integrity even at extremely high temperatures. There are various types of this thermoplastic available, based on their formulation and the particular strength and resistance requirements of the end use it will serve. The most common is the virgin unfilled ULTEM™ 1000 sheet and rod. Our second most common version is 30% Glass Filled ULTEM™ Sheet and Rod, also known as ULTEM™ 2300.

Excellent Stability

The main advantage of ULTEM™ is its dimensional  stability and strength, even when the material is exposed to extremely high operating temperatures. The Sabic ULTEM material is incredibly rigid and dimensionally stable as well, with better physical properties compared to similar performance plastic materials like Acetal or Nylon. It has excellent tensile strength and flexural strength, and is especially popular for applications that require plastics with improved stiffness and/or electrical properties.

Machined ULTEM 1000 rod

Broad Chemical Resistance

PEI/ULTEM™, regardless of which grade is used, has exceptional resistance to a wide range of chemicals, including the fats and oils found in foods, alcohols, acids, service fluids for various vehicles, and those found in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Its resistance to such a wide range of chemicals has made this plastic popular for use in reusable machined components in Medical Equipment manufacturing and Pharmaceuticals, as well as in commercial Aerospace applications. The Ultem – PEI material is produced into sheet and rod by a variety of Performance Plastic manufacturers under trade names, including: Tecapei®, Unitem®, Tempalux®, Sustatec®, Mechetec® PEI, and others.

Wide-ranging compliance

PEI / ULTEM™ is one of the few thermoplastics that can meet several of the strictest quality and performance standards in the world. It is FDA/USDA and USP class VI compliant. The thermoplastic is also ITAR compliant for use in firearms applications as well as RoHS compliant for use in electrical equipment. In addition to being resistant to many different chemicals, Sabic ULTEM™ is also highly flame resistant, which has made it very useful in various parts of the commercial aerospace market. This high performance plastic material also is available with factory lot and batch certification from this ISO-9001 certified supplier.

Looking for a quality supplier of ULTEM™ and other thermoplastics?

Industrial Plastic Supply has been in the business of plastics since 1975, specializing in the wholesale engineering, mechanical, and high-performance plastics for any industry.

For more information about this or any other performance plastic material, please check out our website today.