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3 Critical Issues You Need To Know About These Popular Plastics

Many industrial plastics can “overlap” in applications where sometimes the optimal choice is only marginally better than several others. Many plastics may work in an application, such as nylon and acetal for sheaves, but certain issues in the operational environment may mean you need to stay away from a certain plastic! Three of the most popular plastics we carry are UHMW polyethylene, cast nylon, and PTFE. But each of the following has a critical issue you need to know about that often discredits the material in certain applications.

UHMW – Impingement

UHMW is a great wear material at an affordable cost…Usually. The one place where it isn’t good at all is with impinging wear, that is wear from a mating partner (could be anything from grains, to rocks, to another sliding component). Impingement is when something hits that UHMW on an angle. With UHMW anything that is remotely abrasive needs to hit it on a 90 degree angle. If the angle is any sharper you risk very quick deterioration of the UHMW plastic. It simply does not hold up to impingement. Often polyurethane, which has excellent impingement resistance, is a substitute and one can be creative, for example only using polyurethane in the impact zone and use UHMW for the rest of the application.

Nylon – Cold Temperatures

Many people know that nylon is affected by moisture swell, what fewer people know is that it gets brittle in cold temperatures, about 10 Fahrenheit or -12 Celsius. This can come as a shock, as nylon is known as a high-load plastic able to handle 4,000 PSI in bearing applications. It is not intuitive to think that cold temperatures would greatly affect the nylon but it is true. Fortunately, replacements are available, specifically Redco Tuffkast is often best to replace nylon. Tuffkast solves not only cold weather issues with nylon but also absorbs much less moisture, so Tuffkast’s properties help in that case as well.

PTFE – Wear

It is often that customers request PTFE for a wear or lining application, even including heavy applications such as dump truck liners! We do try to warn them that PTFE has very poor wearing ability. It is a soft, almost waxy material, that while it is available in sheet form (and seems solid enough) it really cannot hold up to aggressive wear. Bronze filled PTFE is available which increases the wear capabilities; however, by that point there is often a less expensive, more available plastic, that can be suggested as a replacement. PTFE should be avoided in high wear applications wherever possible.

Hopefully you are surprised by at least one of those points, in the hopes that it will assist your material choice in your next application.

To discuss the optimal plastic for your application, get in touch with us today.

Anti-Slip Matting And Tiles

Redco anti-slip matting and tiles are a versatile and easy-to-install solution for slippery areas. The tiles are made of tough, wear-resistant plastic and are made of 100% recycled materials. In fact, the system is a “closed loop” wherein recycled tiles are made into the new product. The tiles are not degraded by heat, cold or sun exposure and come in a variety of colors and with or without grit surfacing. The tiles are resistant to most chemicals and fungicide. They are also manufactured with an interlocking system on all four sides to connect with each other or sloped plastic edging which is available to make your tiles into an eyewash station, for example.

The most common tile profile, commonly referred to as the “standard” is 12″ x 12″ x 3/4″ thick but tiles are also available 12″ x 24″ and 36″ x 36″ and in 1/4″ and 1/2″ thicknesses. Common applications for the tiles include anti-slip walkways besides pools, industrial facilities, wet food processing areas, showers, locker rooms, ramps, the only limits are a sturdy substrate and your imagination. To see our brochure for the anti-slip matting please click here.

For a quotation on these tiles please contact us today.

BRAXX Anti-Slip Surfacing

After decades research and design, several “anti-slip” plastic options are now available and BRAXX should not get lost in the shuffle. BRAXX is a standardized UHMW based anti-slip plastic which comes in 36″ x 108″ sheets that are 0.30″ thick. The material comes in two forms “BRAXX Sand” which has a base color of blue dotted, with a sand-impregnated surface and “BRAXX Luns” which has a high-visibility safety yellow colored base and is dotted with LUNS clean coal slag anti-slip grit. BRAXX serves as a heavy-duty replacement for anti-slip tapes and paints. Both types of BRAXX are comparable in price and effectiveness, it comes down to personal preference for color and grit.

Applications for the two materials have few limitations. At 0.30″ thick, BRAXX is non-load bearing and is meant to be placed on top of another surface, typically flooring, stairs, etc. As the plastic is UHMW nothing sticks to it and mechanical fixation is required: you will not to bolt or screw into the substrate. Advantages of BRAXX are that it will not rot, rust, absorb moisture, or otherwise corrode. It is impact resistant and easy-to-install on top of other substrates such as wood, aluminum, or steel. Originally developed for the U.S. military, BRAXX is now available to the general public.

For pricing or information on what BRAXX can bring to your application, please contact us today.

4 Tips For Your Fabricated Plastic Application

Have an idea for an application requiring machined, molded, or fabricated plastic and now you’re ready for some pricing? Having your requirements organized and prepared will not only lead to a quicker quotation but could also lead to a more successful application and quite possibly – save some money. If you’re ready for that quote these tips will help make it the smoothest possible process:

1.) Have some sort of drawing or sketch to send

We don’t expect everyone to have a technical drawing but we at least need a sketch to get started. Sometimes applications that seem simple (a bearing or a pulley) are more involved than you would think. Take a bearing for example, if you just give us the outer diameter/inner diameter/length that doesn’t answer all we need to know. We’d want to know what the tolerances are, specifically in relation to a press fit or running clearance. Does it have a grease groove? Any flanges? A simple sketch can answer many of those questions.

2.) Have quantity and budget in mind

Truth is there isn’t always just one plastic that works in an application. Often there are multiple options that are “good, better, best” and your budget determines where the ideal material lies. Quantity is important too, as quantity can (but not always) lead to price breaks. However, narrow it down to 2-3 quantities at most for quotation. There are not price breaks at all quantities and putting too many tiers will delay your quote.

3.) Know the operational environment and inform us proactively

Often our reps will ask you questions about your application. Basic, yet important parts of the operational environment often get overlooked when choosing a plastic, so think of this in advance and, better yet, inform us at the outset. For example: is the application outside and therefore needs UV-protection? Is it exposed to any chemicals, acids, or bases? Does it take impact or is immersed in water? All of those are critical to the success of an application.

4.) Ask questions

We can’t answer absolutely everything, but we do know our plastics. So if you’re unsure if a plastic is best for your application then ask. Even if we’re not familiar with the application itself, we can at least discuss how other plastics compare to the one you’re considering and that may lead to more success and satisfaction with the end result.

For help with your plastic applications please contact us.

Nylon For Specialty Applications

Nylon is a family of plastics with several different additives that make them suitable for applications where natural-grade nylon isn’t optimal or won’t be successful. There are three grades of nylon specifically that should be highlighted for their properties in applications with unique demands.

Firstly Redco SL which offers a low coefficient of friction with excellent wear resistance. It was developed for applications where external lubrication is either very difficult or impossible. Redco SL performs better than other nylons and many plastic where the part is rarely accessed for maintenance.

Secondly, Redco glass-filled nylon serves very well for prototypes. The glass filling results in a very dimensionally stable part which can be held to tighter tolerances. This part also has the lowest “cold flow” of any nylon. If you’re looking for a “proof of concept” part than Redco glass filled nylon is an excellent choice.

Lastly, Redco blue is a grade of nylon for high-heat applications, able to withstand up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit ongoing in application. This alone isn’t especially unique, as several plastics such as PTFE handle temperatures just as high. However, Redco blue nylon is the best “bang for your buck” for a heat-tolerant plastic. The alternatives such as the aforementioned PTFE, PEEK, ULTEM, etc. are all much more expensive. If you’re having trouble finding a heat-tolerant plastic and you know your application is 250 degrees F or less, then Redco blue may be an excellent choice for your application.

To see if the Redco nylon products listed above or another plastic is optimal for your application, please contact us today. 

Coffee, Baseball, And Polycarbonate

Today we’re highlighting a recent application by our Spokane branch. Recently we were contacted by Dutch Bros. Coffee who has a location at Avista Stadium: home of the Spokane Indians baseball team. Dutch was looking for a clear plastic to protect their storefront signs and graphics.

General-purpose polycarbonate was chosen for its excellent impact strength which will prevent breakage from anything from vandalism to accidental bumps. In addition, the polycarbonate is much more forgiving with drilling than acrylic – and several screws were tapped into the sheet. The polycarbonate was 3/16″ thick for this application. The picture below shows the completed application.

For help with your polycarbonate needs please get in touch with us.

Spokane

The #1 Myth About FRP Wall Panel

FRP wall panels are used everywhere: from gas stations, to food processing facilities, to mud rooms at home. Customers are curious about the accessories, colors, and installation methods but one “speed bump” usually comes up that gives the project a pause. Customers who are looking into an FRP wall panel project tend to request smooth panels because they believe the smooth panels will maintain a cleaner, longer lasting, vandalism-resistant surface. This is a myth!

In reality, the textured FRP panels are superior. They are designed so that dirt, grime, mud, liquids, marker, etc cannot imprint. The smooth panels, while they might look a bit more attractive for the first few months, will eventually become permanently stained or defaced. The smooth surface allows filth, marker, biological waste and other contaminants to stick and gather on the surface. The textured panels on the other hand were specifically designed to resist all these contaminants. The pearly, asymmetrical surface compels grime and liquids to drain off or at least bead for easy cleaning. The bumpy surface doesn’t allow for vandalism such as graffiti as those liquid-based contaminants will also bead.

There is no catch. As the textured surface was designed to be the new ‘standard’ in FRP wall panels it is more available, and less expensive, than the smooth panels. While there are many variables to consider in your FRP wall panel project, do not waste time or money on smooth panels unless this is absolutely necessary (and you know the consequences!). For a quotation* on our Redco FRP wall panels and accessories please contact us today.

*FRP wall panel from Redwood Plastics is only available for sale and shipping within Canada.

Product Spotlight: Redco ULTEM

High performance plastics face extra challenges other materials do not. Because of the prevalence of consumer grade plastic, unfortunately plastic with much of the public has become synonymous with “cheap” – low price and low quality. Unfortunately, this is a complete myth for the three grades of plastics (engineering/industrial, high performance, and imidized) that are above consumer grade plastics. In fact, at the higher tiers of quality plastics widely outperform metal and other traditional materials in most applications. And this does come with a subsequent increase in product cost (though usually a lower “lifecycle cost”). But for your money you get quality in a phenomenal material.

ULTEM (polyetherimide – “PEI”) in its virgin form has an interesting amber/translucent color. It handles hot water and air well, up to 332 Fahrenheit in continuous operation. Its resistance to repeated steam sterilization makes it a prized material for medical tools and devices. ULTEM is also very useful to the electronics industry due to its dielectric constant and arc resistance. It is also resistant to gamma radiation and does not absorb water. ULTEM is considered a dimensionally stable plastic with high strength and rigidity allowing it to be machined precisely to tighter tolerances than other plastics would allow. It is also available in 10, 20, and 30% glass filled grades to offer even higher dimensional stability.

If you have a high heat application requiring a precisely machined part ULTEM may be the optimal plastic for you. To discuss this or other plastics please contact us.

Valve_ULTEM

Application Spotlight: Redco HDPE “Play” As Outdoor Tabletops

Recently Terrapin Brewing Co (www.terrapinbeer.com) approached us with an interesting application. They wanted to create a plastic table surface for use at their brewery but this offered some unique challenges. For one, the tables were outside which meant that a UV-stable plastic was in order. Secondly, a variety of properties were important: wear, impact, anti-slip and non-fading color would be desirable.

But most importantly the color had to be green and a green that was fairly close to the branding of Terrapin Brewing Co. This is difficult in the world of industrial plastics where custom colors can mean extra costs, long lead times, and minimum order sizes. In addition, an industrial plastic such as UHMW would be overkill for this application and would even have some undesirable characteristics, such as being very slick.

But our representative working on the application made an intuitive leap. We had access to a specialized HDPE material Redco “Play” board designed for playgrounds. In our world of sawmills, mines, and heavy construction this isn’t something we focus on! Nevertheless, Redco Play satisfied all the requirements of the application: it was green, UV-stable, impact-resistant, wear-resistant and had an “orange peel” textured surface so glasses wouldn’t slide around.

The pieces were supplied pre-cut into 24″ x 24″ x 1/2″ (thick) squares with a minimum order of 16. Terrapin quickly installed these and you can see a picture they sent us below. They have said they are very satisfied with the material and this application.

For assistance with your applications contact us today.

terrapin

Greenhouse Season Calls For Twin-Wall Polycarbonate

After this unusually brutal winter in many parts of North America, people are finally starting to “pick up the pieces” and are getting hopeful with the first signs of spring. With that, many gardening enthusiasts start to think of the work that needs to be done outdoors. For some, that may mean greenhouse maintenance or a new greenhouse altogether and if so, twin-wall polycarbonate should be strongly considered for the wall and roofing material.

Twin-wall polycarbonate is a corrugated economy grade of polycarbonate specifically designed for use in greenhouses and awnings. Unlike standard “smooth” polycarbonate, twin-wall comes standard UV stable on one side, meant to be installed facing outwards. Traditional polycarbonate sheets do not come UV-stable in their general-purpose form, commonly stocked by plastic companies. In addition, the twin-wall sheet is actually made up of plastic cells which help trap heat: critical for a greenhouse! The product is most commonly available in clear (which you would want for a greenhouse) but can be brought in on special order in bronze (more popular for outdoor awnings).

One important misconception about twin or multi-wall polycarbonate is that “thicker = better”. In general, that’s not true. The reason being is that users sometimes do not take into account that while the thicker material does trap more heat, it also lets in subsequently less light. So while you might have a warmer greenhouse you will also have one where the plants may take longer to grow and crop yields might be disappointing. Customers tend to find that large-scale industrial greenhouses use thicker multi-wall polycarbonate and assume this transfers directly to their application but that is an oversimplification: industrial greenhouse operations often have the benefit of artificial lighting to compensate for loss of light transference through the plastic. Something that most small home greenhouses do not have. For more information on this you might be interested in this blog post: Multi-Wall Polycarbonate: Beware Tradeoffs

We have found that 4′ x 10′ x 6mm clear twin-wall sheets offer the best balance of properties for home greenhouse applications. We have had satisfied customers from the wet coasts to the frigid northern prairies of Canada – so we believe for the home consumer thicker multi-wall may not be cost-effective for what you actually need.

For a quotation on twin-wall polycarbonate please contact us today.

Please let us know how many sheets you need, what size, and where you’re located for the quickest response.

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CDN 800 667 0999
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