Plastic Material GuideMatch your part's function, design and environment to the right material
Fairchild Plastic Materials
Molded and Extruded Plastics: TPEs, PVC, Teflon, Polyethylene, LDPE, HDPE, Polypropylene, Nylon, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polycarbonates.
Nylon is a synthetic thermoplastic fiber. It melts easily when exposed to heat, varying luster, resistance to insects, fungi, molds and chemicals and is less absorbent than other materials. Nylon is used as a fabric or mechanically. In its solid form it is very wear resistant and used to build low to medium stress gears, bearings, bushings, and other mechanical parts. As a fabric, it was used as a replacement for silk in clothing, parachutes, stockings, toothbrushes, etc.
Polycarbonates are a group of thermoplastic polymers that are easily molded and commonly used. They are temperature and impact resistant and have excellent electrical properties. This polymer is a clear plastic with a slight yellow discoloration. Processing is more difficult due to high melting temperatures. Used in tube shaped extrusions, bottles, glass lenses, compact discs and typical sheet applications such as computers, etc.
Polyethylene, LDPE and HDPE
Polyethylene is a thermoplastic. The most common polymer in plastics is polyethylene. It is cheap, flexible, durable, and chemically resistant. There are two different types LDPE and HDPE. LDPE: polymer strands are entangled and loosely organized, so it’s soft and flexible. It was first used to insulate electrical wires, but today it’s used in films, packaging material, wraps, bottles, disposable gloves and garbage bags. LDPE stands for low-density polyethylene based off the ability to float in a mixture of alcohol and water. HDPE: When ethylene is polymerized in the presence of various metals, a tighter, denser, more organized structure was produced called high-density polyethylene. HDPE is a harder plastic with a higher melting point than LDPE, and sinks in an alcohol-water mixture. HDPE is used for containers, plumbing, and automotive fittings.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE) is a thermoplastic polymer is used in creation of synthetic fibers. PET is less permeable than other low-cost plastics since it is often paired with aluminum to reduce permeability. This makes it a popular material for making carbonated drink bottles. PET is available in transparent, opaque and white coloring. PET is strong and abrasion resistant, and is used for making mechanical parts, food trays, and other items that require impact resistance.
Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) acrylic
Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) acrylic, also known as acrylic glass or plexi glass, are well known for their use in paints and synthetic fibers, such as “fake furs”. In bulk form they are very hard and more transparent than glass and also easier to stretch. PMMA is often sold as glass replacements. This material has strong impact resistance, however dissolves easily in a variety of common solvents. PMMA is processed using injection molding, compression molding or extrusion.
Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic polymer. The various forms of polypropylene have different melting points, hardnesses, clarity, impact resistance. PP was first created as a cheaper version of Polyethylene. It is commonly shaped using injection molding techniques. Polypropylene is commonly used in packaging, textiles, car trim, battery cases, bottles, tubes and bags.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) is a thermoset plastic. The polymer is a nonstick, heat-resistant, strong, and resistant to many chemicals and has a nearly frictionless surface. PTFE, better known as “Teflon”, is mainly used as a protective coating to metal surfaces and is created by exposing a polyethylene container to fluorine gas. Teflon is most commonly used in the “nonstick” frying pan.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a thermoplastic. A plasticizer liquid is added to material to make original material soft and moldable. PVC has numerous properties including various colors or clarity, flexibility, flame resistance, compatibility with other additives, electrical resistance, impact strength and resistant to bad weather conditions also resistance to grease, oil and chemicals. PVC is commonly used for pipes and plumbing because it’s durable, resistant to corrosion, and less costly than metal pipes. It is also the least environmentally friendly plastic. Extruded PVC is used for sealing items such as garage doors or refrigerators and for structural components of vehicles.
Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE’s) are flexible materials that have the characteristics and performance abilities of rubber but are processed like a plastic. With the ability to be stretched to at least twice its size at room temperature and still return to its original length upon release of stress, it has a longer life and physical range than most alternate materials. TPE’s are classified into 6 traditional classes; Styrenics (S-TPE’s), Copolyesters (COPE’s), Polyurethanes (TPU’s), Polyamides (PEBA’s), Polyolefin Blends (TPO’s), and Polyolefin Alloys (TPV’s). In addition to these, there are approximately 3 new TPE entrants including Reactor TPO’s (R-TPO’s), Polyolefin Plastomers (POP’s), and Polyolefin Elastomers (POE’s).