A Summer Experiment With Plastic

As summer comes to a close so does an experiment we ran at our Vancouver branch. While we try to minimize our offcuts, so as to reduce the amount of wasted material we create, we are still left with little bits here and there. Throughout the years our Marketing department, who handle our online inquiries, has noticed a number of customers asking about small pieces – which are apparently very difficult to find. We had the idea of taking stock of some offcuts and seeing if anyone would be interested in some small bits…Turns out they were!

Some projects we had come across our desks:

-PTFE base for a home telescope

-Phenolic saw guides

-“Wheel-less” dynamic surface for a sliding wardrobe door

-Acrylic table surfaces (quite a few of these)

-Polycarbonate for boat hatches

What did we learn? A lot. It was a great learning experience for ourselves and the customers. On the positive side we learned how creative the public can be with industrial plastics, particularly with the telescope and wardrobe that used UHMW strips as an ultra-low friction sliding surface. Also, it was interesting on how large of size “offcuts” were requested of us – often approaching 3/4 of a full sheet. Certainly there was no shortage of desire for industrial plastics and for so many different applications. It was refreshing to work on something new.

Unfortunately, those larger offcuts seemed to come in at prices that disappointed some customers, despite special pricing. Industrial plastics are an excellent material but they are not cheap like everyday consumer plastics. The larger offcut sizes in particular meant some disappointed customers could only be quoted on full sheet for their application at the regular price.

However, overall it was an interesting experiment and one we’ll continue to run as we gather more information on how to increase the footprint of industrial plastics.