6 Considerations for choosing performance plastics

If you’re not living a breathing plastics on a daily basis like us, looking at a plastics property chart may feel overwhelming and be difficult to understand.

To help, here are 6 properties and considerations that you should look at first:

Temperature: When comparing properties of plastics, they are most often measured at room temperature (20-25C or 70-73F) in a lab environment. If your thermoplastic part will be used in environments where this temperature can not be maintained, it can affect your part.

For example, thermoplastics soften in higher temperatures making them more susceptible to penetration by chemicals and moisture. Colder temperatures could cause brittleness thus reducing its impact resistance. Also of importance is the fact that plastics can shrink and expand in changing temperatures so appropriate tolerances must be considered.

Chemicals: If your thermoplastic part comes into contact with chemicals, this could affect which thermoplastic is best for the highest chemical resistance. Using the right plastic will significantly affect the longevity of your part.

Moisture: When moisture penetrates the plastic it affects also the strength and longevity of your part. All plastics absorb some moisture and this should be taken into account in your tolerances and applications. This moisture property is often documented and reported differently for each manufacturer, but with our extensive experience in thermoplastics, we can help you decipher these to better compare.

Stress & Annealing: During the production process, plastics experience stress as they are bent and shaped. We can reduce this stress by annealing the plastic at very specific temperatures for a set amount of time, based on the plastic material selected. We often recommend this for parts that are heavily machined or very complex.

Filled: We can alter the properties of thermoplastic by filling them with other components. We can add glass filler to increase stiffness, heat transfer, and wear properties. Glass, carbon, or colour fillers can affect food compliance.

Safety: In thermoplastics, safety factors are often reported at maximum levels to make materials look better. We suggest dividing that data by 4 to get a more accurate representation.

Ready to compare plastics on your own? Check out our interactive plastics comparison matrix or contact us for a custom recommendation and quote.

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