There are so many choices for performance plastics it can be overwhelming to choose what you require for your application. What complicates things further is that often several grades of plastic may be able to “do the job” but plastics also vary widely in price. If you’re the type of customer who wants the right material for an application but doesn’t want to waste your budget either: how do you choose when to go with a high performance plastic vs. an economy grade? While every application is different there are some good rules of thumb.
1.) When limited maintenance is a factor
High performance plastics tend to resist weathering, chemicals, and temperature longer than lower grade materials. This means they will require replacement less often, less greasing, etc. This is particularly important with parts being put in particularly difficult to access areas or when equipment downtime for maintenance is difficult to schedule.
2.) When loads are high
4000 PSI in operation is typically the ‘transition point’ between going with an engineering-grade plastic and a higher performance plastic. Typical sheave and bearing materials such as nylon, Tuffkast, acetal, and polyurethane should not be used in applications above 4000 PSI and at that point a high performance plastic is strongly recommended.
3.) When steam and hot water are present
We need to make a distinction between intermittent and constant hot water and steam exposure. Certain plastics, such as acetal, can handle limited exposure (a few seconds to few minutes) to hot water and steam and will work just fine in those cases. However, when steam and hot water are constantly present such as in repeated autoclave sterilization, a high performance material is your only choice as there are simply no good options at lower grades. Steam and hot water exposure are major issues for many plastics and it is strongly encouraged you consult with one of our experts about your application when these factors are present.
4.) Areas of high chemical exposure
Chemical exposure can be a major factor in application success. The saturation of a chemical, not just the exposure itself, is key. A certain plastic may resist 20% saturation in air of a certain chemical, yet fail in 70% exposure to the same chemical. If you are working with strong acids, bases, solvents, hydrocarbons, and other potentially corrosive materials you need to ask questions of an expert and trust their recommendation, which likely may be a high performance recommendation.
If you have questions about your application or Redwood Plastics and Rubber’s high performance plastics, please contact us.