“Plastic” is a broad term that spreads across a variety of products. To say something is plastic does not truly offer much clarity in most situations. There are a wide variety of plastics, with different functions, use cases, and manufacturing processes.
Even leading plastic machining companies struggle to choose between materials from time to time. This is why it’s important to understand the different types of plastics, and how best to use them in the plastic machining process. The following is a list of 3 different plastic resins, and their primary uses in machining.
One plastic resin that should be in every machinist’s arsenal is Acetal plastic. This product has a high degree of resistance to heat and is also highly wear-resistant. Withstanding temperatures up to 160 degrees Celsius (320 Fahrenheit) make it perfect for intense environments where other plastics might not hold up as well.
Acetal (polyoxymethylene) homopolymers, such as Delrin, are commonly used in inexpensive components that withstand harsh conditions. Machining processes like milling and turning are ideal for Acetal plastics, which are normally supplied in sheets or extruded bars. It can also be injected or extruded using its granulated form.
Benefits of Acetal Plastic
Easy to Machine
Great Electrical Insulation
Delrin is a machinable thermoplastic that can last for decades in demanding environments. Delrin’s durability and resistance to wear make it the ideal material for replacing metal parts, gears, door systems, conveyor belts, and other high-load mechanical applications including healthcare delivery devices.
It has excellent colorability as well as the ability to be molded into very precise shapes. This is perfect for projects where precision matters most such as surgical instruments or musical instruments.
TL;DR- Acetal offers higher tensile strength, stiffness, creep and fatigue resistance, and significantly higher impact resistance. The combination of these excellent mechanical properties in a single material allows for thinner, lighter-weight parts and shorter molding cycles with potential cost reductions, with maintained precision.
Nylon is a thermoplastic material made from synthetic polymers. It was the first commercially successful polymer, and it’s now used in many different applications including textiles, ropes, mechanical parts for engineering materials.
Nylon is a versatile product that has many uses in the modern world. It can be used to make clothes, tires for cars and other mechanical items, ropes or threads, as well as injection-molded parts found in vehicles and machinery like gears or even engine compartments due to its strength. Nylon is also capable of being machined.
Nylon is a favorite material because of its durability, strength, and elasticity. Unlike most plastics that are not resistant to water or chemicals, nylon can withstand all sorts of abuse without breaking down. This makes it perfect for car engines since the parts often come into contact with toxic substances like oil spills while also being constantly exposed to high temperatures from friction during normal operation.
Benefits of Nylon Plastic
Easy to Machine
High Strength Under Stress
TL;DR- Nylon has a wide variety of uses due to its durability and elasticity. When needing a moldable, versatile plastic resin, Nylon is a great option.
ABS plastic is a thermoplastic and amorphous polymer that can be liquefied when heated. It is a popular choice because it can be formed with several plastic machining processes. ABS will become liquid at 221 degrees Fahrenheit. Thermosets, on the other hand, burn instead of melting because they are unable to form long chains like their counterparts do during heat processing.
A notable characteristic of this particular material is its capability for being melted down so easily without substantial degradation. This allows them to be easily injection molded and then subsequently recycled.
Durability combined with low costs is what makes ABS plastic so desirable. ABS tends to resist chemical corrosion very well, and it withstands physical impacts. It’s easy to mold into any shape, making it a go-to material for toys or other small-scale products that require intricate shapes and details.
Benefits of ABS Plastic
Easy to Dye
Low Melting Point
TL;DR- ABS plastics are similarly durable to the other two plastics on this list. Due to its moldability, it works really well for manufacturing small, intricate parts. Its most practical use case is injection molding.
‘Plastic’ covers a wide umbrella of items, but with the right knowledge, truly amazing products can be innovated and developed. Hopefully, you take this list of machining plastics to work towards the next great plastic innovation! Learn more about plastics manufacturing.