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Greg Shulman
By Greg Shulman
Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 15:28

Selecting which plastic material to use for your injection molding process can be a lot like deciding on a new car—you have to know what you need to use it for in order to make the right decision. You wouldn’t buy a sport car if you needed to haul gravel, would you? Just like with vehicles, plastic grades each have their own strengths and weaknesses. This is one of the things that I love about plastics—there is no “best” type of plastic. The best kind of polymer for any project is one that will perform accordingly with the part’s intended use in the most cost effective way.

For instance, polycarbonate is a very popular material. It is very tough, can be colored in all kinds of ways, and has a relatively high working temperature. However, being an amorphous plastic, it is not very resistant to chemical degradation. So if your part will see lots of cleaning with harsh chemicals, polycarbonate might not be the direction you should look in.

Likewise, you may have a part that needs high abrasion properties. In this case, nylon would be a great choice! However, nylon has a tendency to absorb water and lose its mechanical properties in the process. So if your part’s working environment is fairly wet, an acetal might be a better choice for your project.

It is essential, when selecting materials, to keep two things in mind—what you need a plastic to be able to do, and what environmental conditions your parts will encounter. The goal here is to use a material in an environment where it encounters some or all of its positives and none of its weaknesses. And hey, if you’re in need of a bit of help, that’s one of things that the engineering team here at Elite Plastics is for. We can help you figure out what will and won’t work and can even make suggestions for your projects. Ultimately, however, the choice is up to you. So what does your project need?