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Select The Appropriate Plastic For Your Project

Date: May 22 2020 | By:LC Rapid
Tag:Materials, Rapid Prototyping, Low-volume Manufacturing,

There are lots of plastics on the market, so deciding which one is great for your rapid prototyping or low-capacity manufacturing project can be a daunting task. There is a trade-off between plasticity, strength, surface finish, cost, durability, and some other way when choosing which plastic to use. Choosing plastic depends not only on the role of the component, but also on the environment in which it is engaged.

To let you know how different plastics are used in lots of way, there are some of the most common applications our customers bring to us, as well as the plastic materials we suggest for each plastic product.



Which plastic resins are most like rubber? Many applications require injection of resins with rubber soft and elastic properties. To do this, we use thermoplastic polyurethanes, it usually known as TPU. It is formulated in a large number of special formulations for low temperature performance, durability and high elasticity.

TPU is used in lots of applications such as sporting goods, casters, power tools and cable insulation. Solvent resistance, so found in lots of industrial environments. However, TPU can be difficult to deal with because it is notorious for absorbing moisture from the atmosphere.

In final, for over-forming, there is thermoplastic rubber (TPR), which is good to handle and cheap, such as buffer rubber handles.


What is the plastic used to make children's toys? Almost one-third of the world's plastic toys are made of PE because they are cheap, non-toxic and very fast in color. Additional UV stabilizers can be added to outdoorand and entertainment toys that will experience plenty of sunlight.

Stronger, harder toys with higher impact strength, made of ABS or nylon.


Transparent parts, transparent lenses and windows

Which plastics are right for transparent lenses, windows and transparent components? Acrylic, also known as PMMA, is suggested. The materials are used to make shatter-proof windows, such as glass windows. It requires high polishing, good tensile strength and economy. However, it is not as impactful or chemically resistant as polycarbonate.

If you need more robust material, we suggest polycarbonate (PC) because it's not only more durable, but also has great optical performance, making it ideal for lenses, bulletproof windows and DVDs. Another excellent feature of the PC is that it bends and forms at room temperature without breaking, so prototypes can be done without the need for expensive mold tools. (Think of your last attempt to bend the disc in half.) It is much more expensive than acrylic and can release harmful chemicals when it exposed to hot water for long time, so it is not considered a food safety.


Tools and hardware

Which plastics are the best used in terms of hardness, such as toolboxes and hardware? There are a lot of options. High-impact polystyrene (HIPS) is used to create a robust housing for toolboxes and power tool bodies. It's cheap, which is one of the reasons polystyrene is used for disposable packaging, but it isn't considered environmentally friendly.

A better choice might be acrylamide styrene, or ABS. ABS is highly impact-resistant, very robust, or tear-resistant and broken. It is lightweight and can be greatly enhanced by adding fiberglass. It is common in Lego © bricks and keyboard keys. Although more expensive than styrene and longer life, ABS is used for 3D fusion deposition modeling for rapid prototypes.

Plastic containers

What about low-cost, high-capacity plastic containers? Polypropylene (PP) is usually used in food storage containers because it is washed in hot water without degradation, oil and solvent resistance, and does not use chickenpox chemicals, so it is safe to eat. One of the good advantages of it is that it can easily form a living hinge, as you usually find on the lid of a bottle of aspirin. This type of connector can be bent repeatedly without breaking. It is also widely used in pipes and hoses.

Polyethylene (PE) is not particularly hard, rigid or strong, but is still the most common plastic used by people in the world. PE is also found in milky white and is made of plastic on bottles, milk, detergent bottles and trash cans. It is very resistant to a variety of chemicals, but has a low melting point. Because it is too elastic, it is also used in plastic bags and mucous membranes.

Mechanical parts

Which plastic resins are good suited for mechanical components? One of the most common resins people used in mechanical components is nylon, also known as polyamide (PA). It can often be used as an alternative to simple metal components in the engine compartment, where it can withstand heat and vibration well. When mixed with a dipolymer, its surface is slippery, but the nylon-to-nylon gear line is not a good idea - similar plastics tend to stick together, so it's best to alternate the plastic type. Nylon is ideal for using plastic 3D-printed filaments, but it does absorb moisture over time. Another material we suggested for mechanical parts is polyoxytophyl (POM). POM is an acetaldehyde resin used to manufacture DuPont's Delrin ©, a great plastic used in screws, gears, wheels, and other mechanical components. It is a strong and robust material, but can degrade due to alkalis, chlorine and hot water. In addition, acetaldehyde is notoriously difficult to bond or bond together. It is often used to alternate with nylon for plastic gear trains.

What products are you manufacturing?

These are only a brief overview of some of the common plastics which we usual use in LC Rapid. All of this can be modified with a variety of UV stabilizers, lubricants fiberglass and other resins to achieve specific engineering performance when needed according to your specific needs. View a complete list of materials for precision plastic injection molding, vacuum casting and CNC precision machining and their performance.

If we don't list the type of product you need plastic, contact us or only leave a comment, we will let you know what options are available.

When you are ready to make your CNC, vacuum casting and plastic injection molding project, send us a free quote for your 3D CAD file and we will help you find the most suitable plastic for you.

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