Choosing the right plastic
Part 2

Looking at the properties of plastics

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There are literally thousands of different plastics and plastic alloys, with more being added to the list monthly. To start the selection process it is very useful to understand the characteristics of the most common plastics families. Below are a selection of the plastics you will encounter in products you use every day.

Generalised qualities of some plastics

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)

A polymer of styrene (providing a shiny, impervious surface), polybutadiene (for rubbery toughness), and nitrile monomers (which bind the chains together for additional strength), ABS is commonly used for lightweight injection mouldings such as remote controls, automotive trim, and toys.

Polyethylene (PE)

A semi-crystalline thermoplastic with a high degree of toughness and very good chemical resistance. When compared to other plastics, it exhibits low mechanical strength and temperature resistance, however this can be improved by using grades with higher molecular weights. Primarily used in packaging, it is also used in varying grades for piping, chopping boards and even knee replacements.

Polypropylene (PP)

Another semi-crystalline thermoplastic, which resembles HDPE, but exhibits higher strength, rigidity and hardness. PP is, however, sensitive to impact at temperatures below freezing point. The chemical resistance is comparable to PE. PP is widely used in applications from flip-top bottle caps, furniture, rebar supports, and alternatives to laboratory glassware.

Nylon 6

Although Nylon was originally developed as an alternative to silk, modern grades of nylon are extremely versatile and can be used in engineering applications such as gears, engine fittings, and even toothbrush bristles. Other grades of Nylon (Nylon 12) are used in cosmetics and sports apparel.

For help in readying your design for manufacture, and ensuring that your materials selections are optimal, contact Hillside Product Design and discuss your project with us.

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If you’ve got an idea you want to take to market, we will assist you through your journey. Even the most accomplished will require assistance which is where Hillside Product Design’s expertise is invaluable.  We work closely with all our clients to ensure they have all the support they need throughout the product development process.

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