Specialty Plastics: Could They Make Metal Obsolete?

specialty plastics

The catch-all term “plastic” can be misleading. There are actually thousands of different plastics, each with unique properties. For thousands of years, metal has been the reigning champion for strength and durability, but with the introduction of specialty plastics, many industries are swapping metal for plastic.

That’s because specialty plastics have a lot to offer. With strength that compares to metal, many plastics offer added benefits like wear and chemical resistance, reduced weight and self-lubrication. These properties make specialty plastics extremely popular in industries like aerospace, defense, agriculture and beyond.

At Reading Plastic, we can even machine plastic components with tight tolerances that equal those achieved with metallics.

How Specialty Plastics Can Improve Your Parts & Products

Let’s provide an example. One of the specialty plastics we offer is Vespel from DuPont: a high-performance polymer perfect for the toughest sealing, wear or friction applications. It can endure high temperatures and stand up to the planet’s harshest operating conditions. As a lightweight material, it’s the perfect alternative to metal, standard ceramics, and even other engineering plastics when weight is an issue. Vespel offers the combined properties of lubricity, dimensional stability, and creep, heat, and chemical resistance in extreme environments. We specialize in Vespel machining, providing our clients with high-quality components that often pay for themselves by improving reliability, reducing maintenance costs, and extending operating life.

Another specialty plastic that has gained popularity in recent years is PEEK (polyether etherketone). PEEK machining has especially increased in the medical field due to the plastic’s unique biocompatibility: it is accepted by the body and will not break down over time, making it uniquely suitable for long-term contact. With high hardness and stiffness, PEEK is commonly used to reinforce bones. It is also x-ray compatible and doesn’t interfere with CT and MRI technology, unlike metals. PEEK remains stable at high temperatures, has high resistance to chemicals, and offers great tensile strength at a low weight. It does, however, require very high temperatures to process, so it’s crucial to choose an experienced specialty plastics manufacturer.

Choose Reading Plastic for All Your Specialty Plastic Needs

Reading Plastic is your go-to source for parts and components made from specialty plastics. We also offer plastic fabrication services and full or partial CNC machining of your order. Call us today at 610-926-3245 to request a free quote or get more information.

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