Engineering-grade plastics offer high-performance capabilities and upgraded characteristics compared to other plastic grades. These plastics possess properties that enable them to perform better in certain applications. Engineering-grade plastics are able to endure a wide range of temperatures, significant mechanical stress, and chemical and physical changes in the environment.
High-performance plastics generally meet higher requirements than engineering plastics and are used in small, critical applications in aerospace, defense, medical, and industrial applications. Both high-performance and engineering plastics have high-temperature resistance and chemical resistance, however, engineering plastics are used in a wider range of applications due to their ready availability and lower cost.
While general industrial plastics have decent chemical and impact resistance, engineering plastics provide high-heat stability, high impact resistance, and chemical and physical resistance. Less technical applications, such as common household items, containers, and packaging, utilize general industrial plastics, while more technical applications, such as those for the automotive, medical, construction, and electronic industries, lean toward engineering-grade plastics.
Properties of Engineering-Grade Plastics
Engineering plastics generally offer heat stability up to temperatures of 150°C, or 302°F. Industries such as the automotive, electrical/electronic, aerospace, and construction industries are constantly exposed to high temperatures, making engineering-grade plastics a great choice for these applications.
Strength and Durability
Certain characteristics of engineering-grade plastics make them extremely durable. These plastics are used for applications in which high mechanical stress is being applied, meaning they have a high internal resistance when an external force is applied to them.
With applications in the automotive, medical, aerospace, industrial, and defense industries, engineering plastics will be exposed to various types of chemicals. Luckily, these plastics are able to withstand chemicals in high concentrations and long exposure times. Chemical resistance is important when using plastics since many plastics of lesser-quality will degrade quickly in the presence of chemicals.
Dimensional stability refers to the ability of a material to maintain its original shape and structural integrity while in use. Engineering-grade plastics have good dimensional stability and are able to maintain their shape with little to no wear and tear, even over extended periods of time.
In the electrical, electronics, automotive, and aerospace industries it is important to incorporate proper insulation. Nonconductive engineering plastics protect the flow of electricity to ensure the proper functioning of a product while also reducing shock risk to users. Since these plastics are also durable and able to withstand heat fluctuations, they are able to be used for both indoor and outdoor insulation applications.
Types of Engineering-Grade Plastics
The main features of acetal engineering-grade plastics include strength, low water absorption, chemical resistance, and dimensional stability. Ensinger Precision Components’ TECAFORM® and Delrin® acetal engineering-grade plastics have these main features, making them ideal for use in the food, agricultural, construction, automotive, and packaging industries.
Nylon engineering-grade plastics are known for being strong and stiff. They are frequently used to replace metal parts, reduce the weight of the machinery, decrease operating noise, and decrease wear on other parts of the machine. Ensinger Precision Components’ TECAMID® is strong and stiff, chemical-resistant, easy to fabricate, and lightweight, making it a great choice for bearings, gears, and seals.
Combining mechanical, electrical, chemical, and thermal resistant properties, polyester engineering-grade plastics are extremely strong and durable. TECAPET®, Ensinger Precision Components’ polyester engineering-grade plastic, has been chosen for use in the transportation, automotive, and electronic industries.
Polycarbonates are quite durable and strong, however, they can also be transparent. With their strength and durability, polycarbonate engineering-grade plastics are found in a wide variety of industries. From eyeglasses to medical devices to auto parts, polycarbonates like Ensinger’s TECANAT® plastic are used everywhere.
Polyurethane plastics are different in that they can be either flexible or rigid. Structural parts for commercial or industrial applications are created from rigid polyurethane, while flexible applications are commonly used for sporting equipment grips on tennis rackets or golf clubs.
Polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF, engineering-grade plastics are resistant to chemicals, flame, gamma radiation, UV, and weather. They also have low moisture absorption, good mechanical properties, and good machinability. Ensinger Precision Components’ TECAFLON PVDF plastics are ideal for use in chemical plant engineering, process engineering, medical technology, and cleanroom technology.
Applications of Engineering-Grade Plastics
These durable plastics are used for aircraft interior components and structural components of aircraft and spacecraft.
Engineering plastics that are durable, chemical resistant, and have low moisture absorption are used for surgical instruments and medical device housings
The oil and gas industry requires materials that are UV and weather-resistant, chemical resistant, and durable so they turn to engineering-grade plastics for downhole tools and equipment and subsea components and connectors.
Durable insulation through the use of engineering-grade plastics is great for applications in wafer handling and transport systems, as well as chemical-resistant parts for cleanrooms.
What to Consider When Choosing Engineering-Grade Plastics
Identifying what properties your product will need will help you determine which plastic solution is right for you. Considering what temperatures your product will be exposed to, the pressure they will endure, if they need electrical insulation or conductivity, and the chemicals they will be exposed to will help you determine the type of engineering-grade plastic you need.
Some plastics will be better than others for certain designs. Some applications will require an extremely rigid plastic, while others may require a more flexible plastic. Being able to identify the right design for your product and how you want it to function will help you land on the right plastic
Cost is always an important consideration when designing a product. Some plastics are more expensive than others, and some have a more expensive process. If you can go with plastic that has a lower melting point, the fabrication process will be less expensive, however, if you are looking to replace metal parts and need a durable, lightweight plastic, it is worth investing in more rigid, heat-resistant plastic.
Engineering-grade plastics are less recyclable than other types of plastic, however, they are made to last longer. It is important to consider how long your product will last and if it can be recycled.
Trust Ensinger with Your Engineering-Grade Plastic Components
Ensinger’s engineering resins are manufactured to withstand strict mechanical and environmental demands. Many industries use engineering resins thanks to their heat resistance, mechanical strength, chemical stability, and malleability. Engineering resins are lighter-weight and more cost-effective than traditional metal parts and have become essential in today’s manufacturing.
Our high-quality selection of resin materials including acetal, nylon, polyesters, polycarbonate, polyurethane, and polyvinylidene fluoride will meet the specific requirements of your application.
Contact our team to get started today!