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Tel: +1 (440) 836-3736

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Different Types of Plastics

February 20, 2019

Plastic injection molding is the most popular method to manufacture parts. With thousands of types of injection molding plastic materials to choose, each coming with its very own composition and characteristics, it can be daunting for entrepreneurs, product designers, and the like to select the right plastic material to manufacture their product.

 

 

 

If this isn’t intimidating enough, also consider most plastics can be altered to enhance their strengths as well as their impact and heat resistance.  This means a new set of trade-offs in cost, strength, flexibility and surface finish. With thousands of potential combinations to choose from and so much on the line it is highly suggested to consult with an experienced injection molder to conclude the best material for your project.  

 

Choosing the right material allows you to change the form, fit, and function of your parts. To help give you a general idea of where to start, we have developed a list below that outlines some of the advantages and applications of some of the most commonly molded materials in the plastics industry. Download PDF of this article in table format.

 

Polyoxymethylene

  • Abbreviation: POM

  • Manufacturing Processes: Injection molding, CNC machining

  • Attributes: Strong, rigid, fatigue resistant, chemical resistant, moisture resistant, opaque/white, low/medium cost

  • Application: Bearings, gears, handles, plumbing, buttons, knobs, automotive parts, household appliances

  • Recyclable: Very easy

 

Poly(methyl methacrylate)

  • Abbreviation: PMMA

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining

  • Attributes: Rigid, scratch resistant, transparent, low/medium cost

  • Application: Display stands, knobs, lenses, light housings, panels, reflectors, signs, shelves, trays

  • Recyclable: Varies

 

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

  • Abbreviation: ABS

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing

  • Attributes: Strong, flexible, low mold shrinkage (tight tolerances), chemical resistant, electroplating capable, opaque, low/medium cost

  • Application: Drain pipe, automotive parts, electronic communication parts, common kitchen tools, LEGO bricks, and many other products.

  • Recyclable: Very easy


Polyamide (Nylon)

  • Abbreviation: PA

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing

  • Attributes: High strength, fatigue resistant, chemical resistant, low creep, low friction, almost opaque/white, medium/high cost

  • Application: Bearings, bushings, gears, rollers, wheels, zip ties, handles, levers, eyeglasses, air filters, frames, safety masks

  • Recyclable: Difficult

 

Polycarbonate

  • Abbreviation: PC

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing

  • Attributes: Tough, impact resistant, temperature resistant, dimensional stability, transparent, high cost

  • Application: Automotive (panels, lenses, consoles), bottles, containers, cell phone, housings, reflector, safety helmets,  shields, bulletproof glass.

  • Recyclable: Varies

 

Polyethylene Terephthalate

  • Abbreviation: PBT, PET

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing

  • Attributes: Rigid, heat resistant, chemical resistant, medium/high cost

  • Application: Automotive (filters, handles, pumps), bearings, cams, electrical components (connectors, sensors), gears, housings, rollers, switches, valves

  • Recyclable: Very easy

 

Polyether Ether Ketone

  • Abbreviation: PEEK

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing

  • Attributes: Strong, thermal stability chemical resistant, abrasion resistant, low moisture absorption

  • Application: Aircraft components, electrical connectors, piston parts and pumps, cable insulation, compatible with ultra-high vacuum applications

  • Recyclable: Difficult

 

Polyetherimide

  • Abbreviation: PEI

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining

  • Attributes: Heat resistant, flame resistant transparent (amber color)

  • Application: Medical, chemical instrumentation; HVAC and fluid handling; electrical and lighting

  • Recyclable: Varies

 

Polyethylene - Low Density

  • Abbreviation: LDPE

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining

  • Attributes: Lightweight tough and flexible, chemical resistant, natural waxy appearance, low cost

  • Application: Kitchenware, housings, covers, and containers

  • Recyclable: Varies


Polyethylene - High Density

  • Abbreviation: HDPE

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining

  • Attributes: Tough and stiff, chemical resistant, natural waxy appearance, low cost

  • Application: Chair seats, housings, covers, and containers,

  • Recyclable: Easy

 

Polyphenylene Oxide

  • Abbreviation: PPO

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding

  • Attributes: Tough, heat resistant, flame resistant, dimensional stability,
    low water absorption, electroplating capable, high cost

  • Application: Automotive (housings, panels), electrical components, housings, plumbing components

  • Recyclable: Varies

 

Polyphenylene Sulphide

  • Abbreviation: PPS

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining

  • Attributes: High strength, heat resistant, brown, high cost

  • Application: Medical instrument components, sterilization trays, automotive fuses, interior aircraft parts, hot water fittings, sockets and connectors

  • Recyclable: Varies

 

Polypropylene

  • Abbreviation: PP

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing

  • Attributes: Lightweight, heat resistant, chemical resistant, scratch resistant, natural waxy appearance, tough and stiff, low cost

  • Application: Automotive (bumpers, covers, trim), bottles, caps, crates, handles, housings, medical pipette tubing

  • Recyclable: Easy

 

Polystyrene - General Purpose

  • Abbreviation: GPPS

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing

  • Attributes: Brittle, transparent, low cost

  • Application:  Cosmetics packaging, pens

  • Recyclable: Easy

 

Polystyrene - High impact

  • Abbreviation: HIPS

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing

  • Attributes: Impact strength, rigid and tough, dimensional stability, naturally translucent, low cost

  • Application: Electronic housings, food containers, toys

  • Recyclable: Easy

 

Polyvinyl Chloride

  • Abbreviation: PVC

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, CNC machining

  • Attributes: Tough, flexible, flame resistant, transparent and opaque, low cost

  • Application: Electrical insulation, housewares, medical tubing, shoe soles, toys

  • Recyclable: Difficult


Styrene Acrylonitrile

  • Abbreviation: SAN

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding

  • Attributes: Stiff, brittle, chemical resistant, heat resistant, transparent, low cost

  • Application: Electrical/electronic applications, household goods, cosmetic packaging, automotive applications, cups,

  • Recyclable: Varies

 

Thermoplastic Elastomer/Rubber

  • Abbreviation: TPE/R

  • Manufacturing Process: Injection molding, 3D printing

  • Attributes: Tough and flexible, high cost

  • Application: Bushings, electrical components, seals, washers

  • Recyclable: Easy

 

Conclusion

Selecting the right material for a product is one of the most critical factors in creating your ideal plastic part(s). Most plastics can be modified with multiple resins to obtain special engineering characteristics based on the demands of your product and the manufacturing process behind them. This is why it is necessary to work with a partner with injection molding experience.

 

For more information about plastics and manufacturing your product, follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook as we will cover plastics in greater detail in our upcoming articles.  Download PDF of this article in table format.
 

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