Most Common Thermoplastics and Their Uses:
- ABS – widely used.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene — known widely as ABS — is among the most popular and versatile of the resins in the styrene family (which includes polystyrene). Its availability, strength, and limited shrinkage all help make it widely used as the default choice for most plastic products.
- Polypropylene – strong and bendable.
Polypropylene is a thermoplastic that, while not as clear or cheap as polycarbonate, is safe for reuseable containers and laboratory tools. It has particular resistance to fatigue which makes it ideal for living hinge applications.
- Polyethylene – even more bendable.
Also known as PE with variants LDPE, and HDPE, polyethylene is one of the most common thermoplastics and is used in film-bags, poly-bags, tubing, bearings, toys and buckets among other things.
- High impact polystyrene (HIPS) – very versatile.
A very cheap and versatile thermoplastic, polystyrene’s rigidity and limited elasticity has caused it to be supplanted with ABS in most applications, but it remains a very good choice for some applications.
- Vinyl | Flexible PVC – inexpensive material for soft, flexible parts
A durable and flexible material, vinyl is widely used for everything from fencing to containers to upholstery. It is tough and resistant to tearing, but can be soft and have trouble holding a rigid shape.
- Nylon – very strong but more expensive than HIPS or ABS.
Being resistant to wear, nylon is used for mechanical parts such as bearings and other low- to medium-stress components.
- Polycarbonate | Lexan – stronger and more rigid than Nylon.
Polycarbonate is particularly useful in clear applications such as, lenses, and light covers. Some forms are used for single use food containers and water bottles, but the material is not considered food-safe for reused or washed containers.
- TPE | Synthetic Rubber – a.k.a. Sarlink & Santoprene
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are a viable injection molded substituted for natural rubbers. They offer a range of stiffness and resistance to abrasion which makes them practical for bushings and seals among other uses.
- Acrylic – very clear, but expensive.
Useful as a replacement for glass, acrylic is very versatile and, although somewhat brittle, can be modified for greater strength.
We can offer you a variety of other materials, however materials other than the above listed may affect a product’s price and lead time.
Most materials are available in many colors
- Clear – available in ABS, polycarbonate, styrene, and acrylic.
- plus Custom Colors (coloring charges may apply)