6 things you need to know about engineering with performance plastics

Working with performance plastic has so many benefits, but you need to be aware of some of their unique characteristics to make them safe for use in your designs. Here’s 6 things you need to know about designing with performance plastics.

Temperature and Environment
Temperature properties of plastic are reported at room temperature (20-25C or 70-73F) and usually tested within a lab environment, which may not precisely match your environment. When the external temperature changes, plastic properties change too.

Warmer environments cause the material to soften and become more prone to chemical wear and tear. Heat can also cause the plastic to expand. Colder temperatures can make the plastics brittle and affect the impact resistance of your part. Cold also causes the plastic to shrink or contract.

If your plastics manufactured parts will be used in hotter, colder, or varying temperature environments, consider your design tolerances and leave room for expansion or contraction of the material

Chemical Resistance
Performance plastics generally perform well when exposed to chemicals. However, some are better suited for certain chemicals than others. Learn more about their chemical resistance in this handy chart.

Moisture Considerations
Plastics absorb some moisture and expand, and depending on the performance plastic you choose and your environment, this can affect your tolerances. While the reported moisture absorption rate differs slightly from supplier to supplier, the most consistent property to look at is the saturation data, which reports the maximum amount of moisture the plastics will absorb in 24 hours.

During production, plastics develop internal stresses but these can be reduced through annealing at the right temperature for the right time (which differs from plastic to plastic).

Filled Materials
When you add fillers like glass, carbon, or color, they can change the plastics standard properties too. Consider these changes in your designs.

Safety Factors
Often these are reported at maximum levels to make the materials look better. To determine safe working value, divide this data by four.

When you are ready to create your own parts or materials from performance plastics, the Plastifab team can help you pick the right plastic for your needs. Talk to the Plastifab team today!

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