Plastics come in all types. At SurfaceID, we use our experience in working with them to choose the best match for your project. Here are some of the most commonly used plastics.
Includes Polypropylene (PP), Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). These represent over half of all plastic produced today. They are inexpensive, non-toxic and resistant to acids and alkali. They can be clear, tinted or opaque. They are not well suited to high temperatures but resist bumps and tearing even at low temperature. PP has a waxy surface finish, making it unsuitable for paints and adhesives, but has high fatigue resistance, making it ideal for molding hinges.
PP is used in food packaging, water pipes, caps for furniture and shampoo bottles. Here’s an example of PP living hinge:
LDPE is used in thin walled packaging, shopping bags, milk bottles, cosmetics packaging, etc:
HDPE is used to make industrial pipes and packaging:
Styrene plastics have a wide range of physical attributes and come in rigid and foam variants. Their surface finishes can be glossy or clear. They aren’t prone to being waxy in the way that polyolefin plastics are.
Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) is a foam variant of polystyrene and is commonly used in food packaging. It is comprised of 2% material and 98% atmosphere.
General Purpose PolyStyrene (GPPS) is inexpensive and brittle, but clear and can be tinted or coloured. It is used to make CD cases.
High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) is similar to GPPS but the added polybutadiene increases impact resistance while keeping the same high quality surface finishes. It’s commonly used in food packaging, toys, computer cases and more.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is similar to HIPS but with superior chemical and temperature resistance. It can achieve high quality surface finishes and vivid colours. It’s the benchmark plastic when it comes to high end consumer goods like the Tstand. Unlike most of the plastics discussed thus far, ABS is not well suited for extrusion, but it is perfect for injection molding.
Includes Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVOH). These plastics are available in vivid colours and rigid form. They are well known for being plasticized, meaning they can be soft and rubbery. PVC is resistant to flames and UV radiation. It contains chloride which is toxic, so it’s not recommended for toys and food containers.
UPVC is the un-plasticized variant of PVC and is used to make vinyl records. UPVC is also used to make the frames of windows and doors:
Plasticized PVC is used to make the sleeves of most of the cables that power our electronics. It’s also used to make flooring and other construction materials:
PVOH doesn’t contain chloride and is used to make a film that dissolves in warm water, This thin clear film is used to envelope laundry and dishwasher soap pods. PVOH comes in fibers and films and isn’t suitable for injection molding or extrusion
That’s it for the polyolefin, styrene and vynil, but much more categories of plastics are to be discovered in a future blog post, so stay tuned!