When your application requires plastic parts with superior mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties, you’ll likely want to turn to high performance polymers. High performance polymers are a class of engineering plastics that are designed to withstand extreme conditions. With high levels of resistance to temperatures and chemicals, and high tensile strength, high performance polymers are suitable for a wide range of applications in demanding industries such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, and medical devices. But what are the various types of high performance polymers and how do you select the one that’s right for your project? The right injection molding partner will be able to help.

An Overview of the Types of High Performance Polymers

Most types of high performance polymers are characterized by a number of properties that set them apart from other resins. For instance, high performance polymers exhibit:

  • Mechanical strength—High performance polymers often have superior mechanical properties, including high tensile strength, impact resistance, and fatigue resistance.
  • Temperature resistance—These polymers can withstand elevated temperatures without losing their mechanical properties. This makes them ideal for applications where exposure to high temperatures is common, such as under-the-hood automotive components or electronic device parts.
  • Chemical resistance—High performance polymers exhibit excellent resistance to a range of chemicals, including solvents and corrosive substances.
  • Dimensional stability—These types of polymers hold their shape and dimensions under various demanding applications, making them suitable for precision engineering applications with tight tolerances.
  • Low friction and wear resistance—Some types of high performance polymers have low friction coefficients and excellent wear resistance. These polymers are ideal for use in bearings and gears in industrial equipment.
  • Biocompatibility—Other types of high performance polymers are used in the medical industry due to their biocompatibility, which makes them suitable for implants and other devices.

While high performance polymers do offer all of these advantages and more, there are also some challenges that injection molders must account for during the manufacturing process. A few of these include high material costs, specific processing requirements, and increased tooling wear. An injection molding partner who specializes in working with high performance resins can help mitigate these.

The Different Types of High Performance Polymers

So what are the various types of high performance polymers, and what applications are they best suited for? The list can be extensive but listed below are a few of the most common.

PEEK – Polyether Ether Ketone

PEEK is known for its superior performance in extremely demanding applications. With temperature resistance up to 260℃ and high resistance to a number of chemicals including acids, bases, and organic solvents, PEEK is ideally suited for applications in the automotive and oil and gas industries.

It also has excellent mechanical properties, wear resistance, and dimensional stability. As a result, it is also a popular choice for applications in aerospace, medical, electronics, and chemical processing.


Like PEEK, polyimides exhibit excellent mechanical strength, thermal stability, and chemical resistance. For instance, polyimides have a continuous use temperature that ranges from 200℃ to 300℃, and some formulations can tolerate temperatures that are even higher.

Combine that with the other properties of polyimides, and they’re ideal for a variety of applications, including aerospace engine components, electrical connectors, medical implants, and heat resistant coatings on electrical components.

Torlon (PAI) – Polyamide-imide

Torlon is a type of polyimide known for its high strength, rigidity, and temperature resistance. This material can withstand temperatures up to 260℃, and exhibits a unique combination of properties that makes it ideal for demanding applications where extreme conditions and high-performance requirements are prevalent.

Torlon finds use in a number of industries, including aircraft components, bearings, and seals; bushings and gears in automotive parts; seals, valve seats, and downhole tools in oil and gas; and semiconductor components that require resistance to aggressive chemicals.

PPS – Polyphenylene Sulfide

Along with a continuous use temperature of 200℃ to 240℃ and low thermal expansion, PPS is also inherently flame retardant and chemically inert. Plus, it has low water absorption, which enables it to maintain its mechanical properties in humid or wet conditions.

PPS is used in various industries, including under-the-hood components like pump housings and fuel system components in cars; valve seats and gaskets in industrial equipment; and pump components and valves in water treatment.

PEI – Polyetherimide

PEI is known for having a great combination of mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties. It has a glass transition temperature of 217℃, high tensile strength, and high dielectric strength that makes it an excellent electrical insulator.

As a result, PEI is one of the go-to materials for use in electronics, aerospace structural applications, automotive components, and medical devices.

Working With Different Types of High Performance Polymers in Injection Molding

When selecting the right type of high performance polymer for your application, there are a few things to keep in mind.

In general, you’ll want to think about the requirements of your application, and what mechanical, thermal, chemical, and electrical properties your chosen material will need to have. Outside of that, it’s also important to make sure that the material you choose meets any regulatory and compliance requirements that may apply.

Finally, assessing the cost and any specialized equipment needed for processing the resin will help you determine which materials will fit within your budget. An experienced injection molding partner will be able to guide you through the selection process with invaluable insights.

Ensinger Delivers Expert High Performance Polymer Injection Molding

At Ensinger Precision Components, we’re an injection molder that specializes in working with high performance polymers. For more than 80 years, our customers have trusted us to provide high-quality plastic components for some of the most demanding critical applications. Whether you need lightweight high performance parts for aerospace applications, chemically resistant components for oil and gas, or precision parts for medical devices, we have the skills and capabilities to deliver.

Connect with us today to get started.