Plastic Materials Guide

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Plastic Properties Materials Guide | Plastics for Injection Molding | Plastics for Machining

Material Description Application
FR4 FR4 is a versatile high-pressure thermoset plastic composite of glass fabric and epoxy resin. It is extremely stiff and strong and is used in mechanical applications where those properties are most important. FR4 is an excellent dielectric and is resistant to radiation and flame. With low—almost zero—moisture absorption and a high impact strength, FR4 is used in electrical equipment, test boards, and in the medical field.

  • Flame resistant
  • Radiation resistant
  • High dielectric rating 
  • High  impact resistance
  • Circuit boards
  • Industrial wear applications
  • Electrical insulation
  • Screw terminal strips
  • Transformers
  • Arc shields
  • Washers
  • Busbars
  • Standoffs
  • Switches
  • Relays
UHMW Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW) is popular in industrial settings where durability and chemical resistance is key. UHMW is used as a bumper material for docks and as a liner for chutes and hoppers and is suitable for the food processing industry. With a very low moisture uptake and good abrasion resistance, UHMW polyethylene is also easy to work with and fabricate.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • For tough environments
  • Wear strips
  • Chain guides 
  • Packaging machinery parts
  • Marine dock fender pads.
  • Conveyor line components
  • Bearings
  • Guide rails
  • Star wheels
  • Chute linings
  • Chemical tanks
  • Food processing parts
PEEK Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) is a strong, durable plastic that retains its hardness in even the harshest high pressure and high temperature environments. With very low moisture absorption and resistance to chemicals, this high-performing thermoplastic is a good choice for tough applications. PEEK is a high-performing material with superior strength across a wide range of temperatures and used in aerospace and marine environments.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • For tough environments
  • Low moisture absorption
  • High dielectric rating
  • Resistant to extreme temperatures
  • Consumer electronics
  • Automobile
  • Medical
  • Aerospace
  • Semiconductors
  • Bearings
  • Piston parts
  • Pumps
  • HPLC columns,
  • Compressor plate valves
  • Cable insulation
  • Fluid management
  • Braided hoses
Teflon® Teflon® is a trade name of DuPont and refers to their non-toxic fluorocarbon-based polymer polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Used widely in the food and beverage industry—yes, that’s the same Teflon that coats your frying pan—PTFE is highly resistant to heat, chemicals, and water. Teflon is also found in electronics due to its smoothness and its dielectric properties, and is popular in non-critical chemical, electrical, and mechanical components. You’ll also find Teflon in the construction industry, automotive industry, and the medical field.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • High dielectric rating
  • Food preparation
  • Waterproofing
  • Cosmetics
  • Paint finishing
  • Solar panels
  • Laboratory appliances
  • Anti-friction equipment
Nylon Nylon is an engineering thermoplastic used as a material for bearings and bushings, gears, wear parts, rollers, and gaskets. Nylon is a tough, stiff material with good thermal and chemical resistance. Its crystalline structure means it can absorb moisture from the surrounding environment. The amount of moisture it absorbs depends on operating temperature. It has a high melting point (492.8 °F) and is less flammable than many other thermoplastics.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • For tough environments
  • Resistant to temperature extremes
  • Wear pads and strips
  • Switchgear
  • Seals
  • Wheels
  • Gloves and PPE
  • Instrument strings
  • Medical implants
  • Electrical connectors
  • Gears
Delrin® Delrin® is a high-performance acetal resin marketed by DuPont. It is a strong, stiff thermoplastic that is easy to machine, has a high impact rating, and high fatigue endurance. This makes it a suitable material for conveyor belts, gears, safety restraints, and other demanding applications. It takes color well, is highly water- and chemical-resistant, and is reliable in a wide range of hot and cold temperatures. It is considered the stiffest unreinforced engineering polymer available on the market.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • For tough environments
  • Resistant to temperature extremes
  • High- impact resistance
  • Pumps
  • Valves
  • Gears
  • Bushings
  • Rollers
  • Fittings
  • Electrical insulator parts
  • Sliding and guide parts
  • Rollers
  • Conveyors
Torlon® Torlon® is a high-performance thermoplastic with excellent insulation properties, a high dielectric strength, and reliability over a wide range of temperatures. These properties make Torlon a popular material for bearings, seal rings, electrical insulators, and sockets. It performs at temperatures up to 500 °F and is highly impact and compression resistant.  This makes it an ideal choice for wear parts on critical machinery.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging 
  • High dielectric rating
  • Resistant to temperature extremes
  • For tough environments
  • High impact resistance
  • Bearings
  • Gears and sprockets
  • Precision industrial parts
  • Bushings
  • Transmissions
  • Cams
  • Sliding parts
  • Seals
  • Valve seats
  • Wear rings
Ultem® Ultem® is a high strength UV and temperature- resistant material that has a high continuous use temperature rating of 340 °F. It is flame retardant and low smoke generating, making it a logical choice for demanding, high-heat applications such as microwaves, medical components, and jet engines. Ultem is exceptionally resistant to environmental stresses and has a high dielectric strength.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • High dielectric rating
  • For tough environments
  • Resistant to temperature extremes
  • Food preparation and sterilization equipment
  • Eyeglasses
  • Circuit boards
  • Switches
  • Connectors
  • Electronic chips
  • Capacitors
  • Aircraft parts
  • Medical instrument components
  • Manifolds
  • Electrical connectors
  • Semiconductor components
ABS Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is a food-safe thermoplastic that is rigid and tough. With high impact resistance and insulation properties, ABS is also highly resistant to chemicals. It is a common material for pipe systems, and musical instruments and keyboard keycaps are often made from the material. Toys such as LEGO are made from ABS, as are canoes, pens, and many household and consumer goods. ABS has low chemical and dielectric resistance.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • High impact resistance
  • Food processing
  • Wall sockets
  • Consumer electronics
  • Power tool casings
  • Pipe systems
  • Musical instruments
  • Refrigeration
  • Machine prototyping
PVC Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a very common thermoplastic polymer. It is naturally white and is a hard, strong material that is readily available—and very affordable. It resists impact deformation and is very resistant to chemicals and alkalis. There are some disadvantages, however. PVC has very poor heat stability, and it emits toxic fumes when melted or burned.

  • High impact resistance
  • Windows and doors
  • Drainage pipes
  • Medical devices
  • Cable and wire insulation
  • Flooring
  • Stationary
  • Packaging
  • Seat coverings and coated fabrics
  • Vehicle interiors and wiring
Polycarbonate Polycarbonate is a transparent thermoplastic with high impact and fracture resistance. It has an upper working temperature of 260 °F and is a tough material that is very strong. Some versions of polycarbonate are FDA approved, making them suitable for food preparation and storage. It is easy to fabricate, has superior thermal insulation and UV protection properties, and is used in eyeglasses, medical devices, automotive parts, PPE, and exterior lighting fixtures. 

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • Resistant to higher temperatures
  • High impact resistance
  • Transparent barriers
  • Medical devices
  • Automotive components
  • PPE
  • Greenhouses
  • Exterior lighting fixtures
  • Roofing and skylights
  • UV protection
Vespel® Vespel® is a trade name of DuPont and refers to their high performing and lightweight plastic that is used in unforgiving industrial operating environments. Able to withstand extremely low and high temperatures, Vespel is commonly used for wear parts and bushings, bearings, and insulators. It is easy to fabricate with, costs less to manufacture than ceramic, and works particularly well in tough environments with high radiation, low or high temperatures, and environments where it is exposed to flames.

  • For tough environments
  • Resistant to temperature extremes
  • Lightweight/high load
  • Does not melt
  • Potable water tanks
  • Bearings
  • Bushings
  • Insulators
  • Washers
  • Wear parts
  • Glass handling
  • Chemical and water pumps
  • Compressors
  • Seals
Acetal Polyoxymethylene, or Acetal, is a high-performance engineering polymer that is strong, rigid, and tough, with excellent impact resistance. It is highly resistant to water, hasd good dielectric properties and is easily fabricated and machined. Its strength and durability make Acetal a popular choice for plumbing parts, medical devices, bearings, and mechanical gears and valves. It is also an appropriate choice for food processing and food preparation.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • High dielectric rating
  • For tough environments
  • High impact resistance
  • Food processing
  • Bearings
  • Bushings
  • Manifolds
  • Gears
  • Jigs
  • Wear parts
  • Electrical components
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Medical devices
  • Valves
Acrylic Acrylic is transparent, strong, stiff, and easy to thermoform. It is a popular choice for its weathering properties because it is more resistant than other transparent plastics. It is lightweight, very clear, and around 10 times stronger than glass. It is not very resistant to solvents or chemicals, however, and acrylic is combustible—but it is suitable in all temperature ranges up to about 392 °F. Acrylic is found in many household items, and is a popular choice for light fixtures, automotive trims, and lenses.

  • Transparent
  • Resistant to temperature extremes
  • LCD screens
  • Medical devices
  • Transparent barriers
  • Security barriers
  • Lenses
  • Paint
  • Signage
  • Architectural glazing and skylights
PSU Polysulfone (PSU) is a semi-transparent thermoplastic with a high toughness from very low to very high temperatures, with a high temperature rating of 320  °F. It is strong, stiff, has exceptional dielectric properties, and is resistant to radiation. It is approved for use in the food industry, often found in microwaves, and thanks to its resistance to chemicals can often be found in valve spools, pump cases, flanges, and tubes.

  • Suitable for food processing and packaging
  • High dielectric rating
  • Semi-transparent
  • Resistant to temperature extremes
  • Food preparation
  • Valve spools
  • Flanges
  • Tubes
  • Pump cases
  • Inspection windows
  • Wastewater handling
  • Gas separation
  • Medical components
  • Plumbing parts
  • Aircraft parts

The table below provides general material guidelines to help in material selection. Specific material properties will vary based on the manufacturer’s specification and the molder’s processing variables.  Please see the manufacturer’s data sheet for the exact properties or visit the materials database.

Material Tensile Strength D638 Izod impact D256 Hardness Flexural Modulus D790 Max service Temp
G10/FR4 38,000 12.0 R115 2,400,000 266 °F
UHMW/Polyethylene 2100 64.0 Shore D 64 110,000 180 °F
PEEK 14,000 1.5 R99 600,000 480 °F
Teflon® 3,900  3.5 Shore D 50 72,000 500 °F
Nylon 12,500 0.8 R118 330,000 200 °F
Derlin® 10,000 2.3 R120 420,000 195 °F
Torlon® 18,000-24,000 1.3-2.0 E70-E90 600,000-1,000,000 500 °F
Ultem® 15,200 1.0 M109 480,000 338 °F
ABS 6,500 7.0 R105 320,000 140 °F
PVC 7,450 0.75 R110-120 14,450 140 °F
Polycarbonate 5,660-10,200 0.9 R118 350,000 250 °F
Vespel® 12,500 0.8 E45-60 450,000 500 °F
Acetal 9,800 1.0 M80 370,000 195 °F
Acrylic 10,000 0.4 M94 17,000 160 – 180 °F
PSU 10,200 1.3 R122 390,000 285 °F

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