THERMOPLASTIC MATERIALS

The table below provides some brief details on different thermoplastic materials used in injection moulding. The list is by no means exhaustive and there are a number of blends of different materials, e.g. PC/ABS, designed to achieve the best performance properties of the two individual components. Within each group of plastics, different levels of performance are available. Additional strength may be gained through the addition of fillers, such as talc or glass, in many cases. Also additives to improve UV stability or flame retardancy or provide antimicrobial properties may also be used.

We are increasingly asked about bio-based plastic materials – those that are organic based as opposed to petroleum, namely bioplastics. It is important to distinguish two aspects of bioplastics: biodegradable and compostable and for this reason we have a dedicated page to understanding Bioplastics

Material Abbr. Properties Typical Applications
Polypropylene PP Good chemical resistance Packaging, containers
PP Homopolymer HPPP Semi rigid, durable Small domestic appliances eg kettles
PP Copolymer CPPP Good gloss, texture possible, low cost Large automotive parts, plates and cups for children and picnics
Polyethylene PE Good chemical resistance, flexible or semi rigid depending on grade.  Weatherproof, good low temperature performance.  Non toxic.  Low cost Low Density –Packaging, containers.  High Density – crates, chemical drums, gas/water pipe and fittings, kitchenware
PE Low Density LDPE/LLDPE Good chemical resistance, flexible or semi rigid depending on grade.  Weatherproof, good low temperature performance.  Non toxic.  Low cost Low Density –Packaging, containers.  High Density – crates, chemical drums, gas/water pipe and fittings, kitchenware
PE High Density HDPE Good chemical resistance, flexible or semi rigid depending on grade.  Weatherproof, good low temperature performance.  Non toxic.  Low cost Low Density –Packaging, containers.  High Density – crates, chemical drums, gas/water pipe and fittings, kitchenware
Polystyrene PS Brittle, transparent.  Poor UV stability.  HIPS up to 7x impact strength of GPPS GPPS – toys, packaging, cosmetic packaging

HIPS – TV cabinets, refrigerator linings, toilet seats

General Purpose GPPS Brittle, transparent.  Poor UV stability.  HIPS up to 7x impact strength of GPPS GPPS – toys, packaging, cosmetic packaging

HIPS – TV cabinets, refrigerator linings, toilet seats

High Impact HIPS Brittle, transparent.  Poor UV stability.  HIPS up to 7x impact strength of GPPS GPPS – toys, packaging, cosmetic packaging

HIPS – TV cabinets, refrigerator linings, toilet seats

Acrylic PMMA Rigid, clear, glossy, good weather resistance Lenses, signs, light diffusers, point of purchase displays
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene ABS Rigid, opaque, tough, good gloss, texture possible Domestic appliances, car fascias, computer housings
Nylon (Polyamide) PA Rigid, tough, hardwearing Gears, bearings, automotive under bonnet parts
Acetal POM Rigid, tough, springlike, good wear and electrical insulation Aerosol valves, clock parts, computer printer components
Polycarbonate PC Rigid, transparent, excellent impact resistance, good weather resistance, good dimensional stability Crash helmet visors, vandal proof glazing, riot shields, car headlamp lenses, safety helmets, babies’ bottles
Acrylate Styrene Acrylonitrile ASA Rigid, opaque, tough, good UV resistance Housings, telephones, automotive door mirrors and radiator grilles
Styrene Acrylonitrile SAN Rigid, transparent, tough, resistant to stress cracking Lenses, drinking tumblers, kitchen and picnic ware, hi-fi covers
Polyvinyl Chloride PVC Rigid or flexible grades, weatherprooof, non-flammable, good impact strength and electrical insulation Drainpipes and guttering, cable insulation, flooring, roofing, hosepipes
Polyurethane PUR Flexible, clear, impermeable Shoe soles and heels, seals, gaskets, rollers, wheels
Polyesters PBT, PET Rigid, clear, extremely tough, wide temperature range resistance Drink bottles, business machine components, transformer parts
Polysulphone PES,PSU Excellent high temperature stability, rigid or flexible grades available.  High cost Microwave grills, chemotherapy devices, surgical equipment, fuel cells
Polyphenylene Sulphide PPS Rigid, opaque, non-burning, good chemical resistance at high temperature Chemical pumps, medical and dental equipment, transformer parts, heating element bases
Polyvinylidene Fluoride PVDF Strong, tough material with excellent chemical and heat resistance Valves, pumps, bearings in chemical process industry
Polyphenylene Oxide PPO Rigid, opaque, glossy, excellent dimensional stability TV housings, automotive instrument enclosures
Ethylene Vinyl Acetate EVA Flexible (rubber-like), good low temperature flexibility, good chemical resistance Handle grips, ice cube trays, hoses
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