When selecting a plastic for an application its very important that you do not get “tunnel vision” with your selection. For example, focusing on the properties of UHMW in cold temperatures (which are excellent) while ignoring the fact that your application is outdoors and the UHMW natural material you selected has poor UV resistance. Asking the right questions about your application, and knowing your budget and timeline, before you approach us will speed up both the quotation process and help to ensure that your applications matches your goals. The following are our five best tips to help you along this process with a new plastic application:
1.) Understand Your Operational Environment
The best way to ensure you are going to use the optimal material is to know everything about the environment the plastic will be subjected to. What is the operational temperature range? What chemicals may it come in contact with? How much sunlight exposure does it have? Is it a wear application? What is wearing against the plastic? How fast is it moving? What pressure is being put on the plastic? We could go on and on but the point is that a fundamental understanding of the operational environment your plastic is going to be in is critical to that application’s success – and knowing the environment will help guide your search, or help us select, the best plastic for your application.
2.) Have Your Firm Budget In Mind
Our most disappointed customers are those that do not have much experience with industrial plastic materials and fabricated parts and come to us solely with the expectation that plastic will be cheaper than metal – because it is cheaper for the most part with cheap consumer products. That is not true when it comes to industrial grade plastics! But we also get disappointment from customers who don’t have a firm budget, yet it somehow needs to be low-cost, yet want something very high performance. Obviously, this is often impossible to deliver! But the problem is the customer is demoralized as several materials are quoted repeatedly and the price seems to be “too high” – even though there isn’t a set amount for what “too high” is. We often find ourselves having spent hours to discover that the application simply isn’t feasible for the customer.
We care for two reasons. First of all, as your distributor we can add value with our honesty: setting you up with the best available material, on the first quote. We can also be honest with the drawbacks, if any, compared to the optimal material for your application. It also saves both of us time as we are not re-quoting different materials to try to go lower and lower on price to fit a budget that never existed in the first place. So come up with a budget with a firm range, and let us know.
3.) Be Willing To Test
We’ve been in business since 1971 and so you might think we’ve seen everything – not true! New applications are brought to us daily, if not weekly, that surprise us with their creativity and goals. That means that often it’s unreasonable to suggest that we can supply a “turnkey” solution guaranteed to work the first time. Our preference in many cases is to have you purchase a small amount of material or parts and test it, perhaps against a couple other plastics. While this is the best way to figure out what is the optimal material in most cases, too often the expectations are too high for a solution right out of the gate or not enough time is given to permit a test and this is to the customer’s detriment.
4.) Be Willing To Take Advice
The counterpoint to tip #3 is that when we do have experience with an application, let us make suggestions. One of the best examples of this are custom UHMW extrusions. Customers with small quantity needs may think they need an extrusion (with long leads and expensive tooling fees) where often we can supply a machined solution. Is the per piece price more expensive? Yes. Is it less expensive for your quantities since you will save on tooling and very long delivery times? Yes also! There are a wide variety of applications in many industries we are confidant with so be willing to check your preconceptions if we believe we can offer value in our suggestions.
5.) Plan Ahead For Delivery
If the potential of a new application falls apart due to customer dissatisfaction with price than the second most common cause for disappointment is delivery time. To be frank, we’re a busy company, and you will find that with most distributors or fabrication shops. It is unrealistic to expect fabricated products to be manufactured within a day or two. In fact, fabricated parts can often exceed 3 weeks delivery and that is just to ship from the point of origin. Rush orders add cost and can’t be done often anyways, so the best idea is to get your application moving as soon as possible but expect that it may take several weeks to get the the parts into your hands. If delivery is critical, know in exact terms “I need it by this friday” or “I need it within two weeks” and we’ll be honest and upfront on our ability to deliver.
If you need help with your new plastic application contact us today.