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

MaterialAbbr.PropertiesTypical Applications
PolypropylenePPGood chemical resistancePackaging, containers
PP HomopolymerHPPPSemi rigid, durableSmall domestic appliances eg kettles
PP CopolymerCPPPGood gloss, texture possible, low costLarge automotive parts, plates and cups for children and picnics
PolyethylenePEGood chemical resistance, flexible or semi rigid depending on grade.  Weatherproof, good low temperature performance.  Non toxic.  Low costLow Density –Packaging, containers.  High Density – crates, chemical drums, gas/water pipe and fittings, kitchenware
PE High DensityHDPE
PolystyrenePSBrittle, transparent.  Poor UV stability.  HIPS up to 7x impact strength of GPPSGPPS – toys, packaging, cosmetic packaging

HIPS – TV cabinets, refrigerator linings, toilet seats

General PurposeGPPS
High ImpactHIPS
AcrylicPMMARigid, clear, glossy, good weather resistanceLenses, signs, light diffusers, point of purchase displays
Acrylonitrile Butadiene StyreneABSRigid, opaque, tough, good gloss, texture possibleDomestic appliances, car fascias, computer housings
Nylon (Polyamide)PARigid, tough, hardwearingGears, bearings, automotive under bonnet parts
AcetalPOMRigid, tough, springlike, good wear and electrical insulationAerosol valves, clock parts, computer printer components
PolycarbonatePCRigid, transparent, excellent impact resistance, good weather resistance, good dimensional stabilityCrash helmet visors, vandal proof glazing, riot shields, car headlamp lenses, safety helmets, babies’ bottles
Acrylate Styrene AcrylonitrileASARigid, opaque, tough, good UV resistanceHousings, telephones, automotive door mirrors and radiator grilles
Styrene AcrylonitrileSANRigid, transparent, tough, resistant to stress crackingLenses, drinking tumblers, kitchen and picnic ware, hi-fi covers
Polyvinyl ChloridePVCRigid or flexible grades, weatherprooof, non-flammable, good impact strength and electrical insulationDrainpipes and guttering, cable insulation, flooring, roofing, hosepipes
PolyurethanePURFlexible, clear, impermeableShoe soles and heels, seals, gaskets, rollers, wheels
PolyestersPBT, PETRigid, clear, extremely tough, wide temperature range resistanceDrink bottles, business machine components, transformer parts
PolysulphonePES,PSUExcellent high temperature stability, rigid or flexible grades available.  High costMicrowave grills, chemotherapy devices, surgical equipment, fuel cells
Polyphenylene SulphidePPSRigid, opaque, non-burning, good chemical resistance at high temperatureChemical pumps, medical and dental equipment, transformer parts, heating element bases
Polyvinylidene FluoridePVDFStrong, tough material with excellent chemical and heat resistanceValves, pumps, bearings in chemical process industry
Polyphenylene OxidePPORigid, opaque, glossy, excellent dimensional stabilityTV housings, automotive instrument enclosures
Ethylene Vinyl AcetateEVAFlexible (rubber-like), good low temperature flexibility, good chemical resistanceHandle grips, ice cube trays, hoses