If you want high-quality injection molded components, using wear resistant material is essential. These durable materials are required for demanding applications where components are subjected to repeated contact or sliding. Using materials of a lesser-quality will ensure that your injection molded components don’t last as long, which will cost you time and money in the long run. Injection molders work with a variety of materials to produce parts with the right wear resistant properties. Read on to examine the best wear resistant materials so you can choose the right option for your next project.

What Makes for the Best Wear Resistant Materials?

According to Science Direct, wear resistance is defined as the ability of a material to resist loss from its surface in the face of various mechanical forces and arduous conditions. In much broader terms, wear resistance is a measure of how well a material can maintain its shape, integrity, and performance over time when wear is a factor during operation.

Wear resistant materials are essential in creating superior injection molded components to minimize defects so that the product is consistent in performance and long-lasting. It is important to understand how to assess the quality of those materials. Let’s explore the different tests that can measure wear resistance:

Pin-on-Disk test—This is a widely-used test in the injection molding industry. A fixed pin with a spherical top is pressed against a rotating disc. This relatively simple test enables you to measure friction, temperature, and wear in steady conditions. Pin-on-disk tests can be conducted with either dry or lubricated materials, and can give you valuable data on the physical properties of those tested materials.

Abrasion resistance test—Another important assessment, the abrasion resistance test involves causing friction against a material using specific weights or pressures in order to determine the moment when wear may occur. Sometimes this means spinning an abrasive wheel against the material until a hole presents itself. Data can be collected to determine which materials are strong enough to withstand harsh environments, which is essential in injection molding.

Sliding wear test—This test determines how resistant a material is to wear under sliding conditions. Typically, a component in motion is moved against a stationary component. Various conditions can be controlled, like speed or temperature, and then the surface of the material can be examined afterwards to determine how it has withstood the test. The sliding wear test is helpful because it can simulate real-world use, such as in gears or other mechanical elements.

Erosion test—You can also determine the wear resistance of a material through erosion testing. This type of assessment is different from the others because fluid is involved.  Sand and water are typically used in an erosion test, with steady conditions like velocity. It’s important to determine if fluid will corrode a particular material. That kind of damage can be catastrophic if not discovered in time. It is essential to use materials that have low erosion rates in harsh environments.

Scratch resistant test– Throughout the course of general wear and tear, a material may encounter numerous forces that will test its surface. The scratch resistant test studies the material’s hardness, coating adhesion, and resistance to scratch. The tip of an instrument is dragged against a material’s surface, with varying degrees of force. Images are then collected to gain insight into how the material performed in order to determine the best parts to use for your injection molding project.

A Closer Look at Some of the Best Wear Resistant Materials

Clearly, selecting quality materials with wear resistant properties is invaluable. Let’s take a look at some of these excellent options.

Acetal – TECAFORM® and Delrin®– While also possessing good wear capabilities, Acetal – TECAFORM® and Delrin® has low water absorption qualities and high dimension stability for injection molding. It can be used in the heavy duty industries, like automotives or construction, as well as in packaging and paper machinery.

PEEK– With an official chemical designation of polyetheretherketone, PEEK has extremely high thermal and mechanical capabilities, as well as good slide and wear properties. As such, this material is often used in the oil and gas industry, as well as in mechanical engineering.

Polyamide-imide (Torlon)—Known for its excellent wear properties, polyamide-imide also has superior impact strength and high thermal resistance. It is often used in electronics, in the engineering sphere, or in aerospace technology.

Polyimide (Aurum™)—Alongside its superior wear resistance, Aurum™ is known for its excellent thermal stability, maintaining properties at temperatures exceeding 300°C (572°F). Like Torlon, it is commonly found in aerospace and high-performance industrial applications.

Polyphenylene Sulfide (PPS)—Known as PPS, this strong material has very high chemical resistance and high dimensional stability. This material is ideal for precision engineering applications, mechanical engineering, or chemical technology.

Polyetherimide (Ultem®)—Although Ultem® is not as wear-resistant as Torlon or Aurum™, it still exhibits properties that are suitable for a number of applications. Capable of performing at temperatures up to 217°C (422°F), Ultem® is naturally flame retardant and usually easier to process than others on this list. It is a common choice for medical devices, food processing equipment, and high-temperature electrical connectors.

A Note on Additives—Additives such as PTFE, graphite, carbon fibers, and glass fibers can also be added to polymers to improve wear resistance. The specifics of this will depend on the needs of your application.

Get High-Performance Wear Resistant Plastic Parts from Ensinger

Ultimately, you want injection molding components that will last, which is why it is important to choose wear resistant plastic parts. At Ensinger, we have been manufacturing high-performance plastic parts for more than 80 years.  We will save you time and money by ensuring that our materials are held to the highest standard possible. In addition to our injection molding services, Ensinger has other capabilities available, like CNC Machining and plastic fabrication. We are confident that by partnering with Ensinger, your products will stand the test of time. Contact our team today to get started.