Are Low Friction Plastics Right for Your Business?
Many industries require materials with slide properties that can withstand heavy loads and continuous contact. Conveyor systems, bearings, rollers, gears, and other parts need suitable slide and high-impact resistance properties. However, constant friction — the resistance to relative motion between two surfaces — makes some materials unsuitable for the task. Over time, friction causes wear and tear, reducing the lifetime of a material. More friction impacts product efficiency, decreases performance, and negatively impacts your bottom line due to part replacement and maintenance costs. Rough surfaces — like steel — are more likely to cause significant wear than softer materials like plastics. Low friction plastics have a low coefficient of friction, making them an excellent choice for industrial applications.
Low friction plastics are critical in industrial processes and production due to their wear and abrasion resistance. Due to their superior characteristics, high-performance thermoplastics add additional functionality to the equation. Let’s examine some key high-performance thermoplastics that are ideal for industrial use.
The Best Low Friction High-Performance Thermoplastics
As previously mentioned, low friction plastics are needed in industrial settings. Low friction plastics have excellent wear resistance. Additionally, high-performance thermoplastics add corrosion resistance, reduce weight, and lower heat and friction. These characteristics lead to longer part life and lower maintenance costs.
PTFE material (also known as polytetrafluoroethylene or Teflon®) is a semi-crystalline fluoropolymer with unusually high thermal stability, chemical resistance, and melting point. It’s typically used as an additive to polyamide, polyacetal, polyester, polycarbonate, and TPE. PTFE products have excellent sliding capabilities, along with electrical resistance and a non-stick surface.
However, PTFE does have low mechanical strength and a high specific gravity compared to other plastics. PTFE plastic can be reinforced with additives like glass fiber, carbon, or bronze to improve its mechanical properties. PTFE is most commonly used in chemical plant engineering and sliding applications under high chemical stress.
PEEK material (also known as polyetheretherketone) is a unique semi-crystalline engineering thermoplastic with excellent chemical compatibility. PEEK polymer can operate at temperatures up to 480°F and has a melting point of around 646°F. PEEK plastics are typically used in hot water or steam environments because they excel at maintaining flexural and tensile strength despite the severe environment. Manufacturing parts made from PEEK material are lighter, stronger, and can survive longer under harsh conditions.
PI material (also known as polyimide) is a non-melting high-temperature polymer. Its strength, dimensional stability, and creep resistance are high even at temperatures above 500°F. This material is ideal for challenging friction and wear applications due to its low wear rates, ability to work under unlubricated conditions, and high pV-rates. PI material is typically used for the vacuum, space, and semicon industries due to its high purity and low outgassing.
PPS material (also known as polyphenylene sulfide) is a semi-crystalline, high-temperature thermoplastic, chemically resistant polymer. It has excellent mechanical strength, even at temperatures above 392°F. It also has good dimensional stability and excellent electrical properties. PPS is typically used in the electronics, automotive, medical, mechanical engineering, and chemical industries.
Smoothly Advance Your Plastic Manufacturing with Ensinger
Adding low friction plastics to your business could save you money by reducing maintenance costs. We would love to help you incorporate them into your organization.
Ensinger Precision Components is a global leader of high-performance polymers. With 35 locations across Europe, North and South America, and Asia, we can tackle any plastic engineering or manufacturing demand, including:
Industrial profiles and tubes
We cover a wide range of industries, with expertise in the aerospace and defense, industrial, medical, oil and gas, and semiconductor sectors. Every industry needs engineered plastics, however, and we’re equipped to handle your requests, no matter what your business does. We also produce a variety of stock shapes including rods, bushings, ball blanks, square plates and flats, and discs to fit your specific needs.
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Connect with Ensinger Precision Components to learn more about low friction plastics and how we can help you get the most from your project.