Material Capabilities

We offer complete design and engineering capabilities which start with an understanding of your application and its requirements (fit, form, and function). From there, we use computer-aided-design (CAD) techniques and our knowledge of the extrusion process to design a product that will satisfy your dimensional, mechanical, and aesthetic expectations. Product designs are then translated into custom tooling which is built in-house utilizing a range of machining technologies.

Our material knowledge helps you identify the optimum combination of performance and cost. We are always evaluating new material technologies to offer our customers. In addition, we custom formulate and compound our own polyvinyl chloride (PVC) materials for optimum performance (strength, weather, ability, etc) and consistency. We specialize in custom color matching.

Types of Materials

Polypropylene

Polypropylene belongs to the group of polyolefins and is partially crystalline and non-polar. Its properties are similar to polyethylene, but it is slightly harder and more heat resistant. It is a white, mechanically rugged material and has a high chemical resistance. Polypropylene is the second-most widely produced commodity plastic (after polyethylene) and it is often used in packaging and labeling. In 2013, the global market for polypropylene was about 55 million tonnes.

Chemical properties

Polypropylene at room temperature is resistant to fats and almost all organic solvents, apart from strong oxidants. Non-oxidizing acids and bases can be stored in containers made of PP. At elevated temperature, PP can be dissolved in nonpolar solvents such as xylene, tetralin and decalin. Due to the tertiary carbon atom PP is chemically less resistant than PE (see Markovnikov rule).

Most commercial polypropylene is isotactic and has an intermediate level of crystallinity between that of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Isotactic & atactic polypropylene is soluble in P-xylene at 140 °C. Isotactic precipitates when the solution is cooled to 25 °C and atactic portion remains soluble in P-xylene.

The melt flow rate (MFR) or melt flow index (MFI) is a measure of molecular weight of polypropylene. The measure helps to determine how easily the molten raw material will flow during processing. Polypropylene with higher MFR will fill the plastic mold more easily during the injection or blow-molding production process. As the melt flow increases, however, some physical properties, like impact strength, will decrease.

There are three general types of polypropylene: homopolymer, random copolymer, and block copolymer. The comonomer is typically used with ethylene. Ethylene-propylene rubber or EPDM added to polypropylene homopolymer increases its low temperature impact strength. Randomly polymerized ethylene monomer added to polypropylene homopolymer decreases the polymer crystallinity, lowers the melting point and makes the polymer more transparent.

Polyethylene

Polyethylene or polythene (abbreviated PE; IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene)) is the most common plastic. As of 2017, over 100 million tonnes of polyethylene resins are produced annually, accounting for 34% of the total plastics market. Its primary use is in packaging (plastic bags, plastic films, geomembranes, containers including bottles, etc.). Many kinds of polyethylene are known, with most having the chemical formula(C2H4)n. PE is usually a mixture of similar polymers of ethylene with various values of n. Polyethylene is a thermoplastic; however, it can become a thermoset plastic when modified (such as cross-linked polyethylene).

Chemical properties

Polyethylene consists of nonpolar, saturated, high molecular weight hydrocarbons. Therefore, its chemical behavior is similar to paraffin. The individual macromolecules are not covalently linked. Because of their symmetric molecular structure, they tend to crystallize; overall polyethylene is partially crystalline. Higher crystallinity increases density and mechanical and chemical stability.

Most LDPE, MDPE, and HDPE grades have excellent chemical resistance, meaning they are not attacked by strong acids or strong bases, and are resistant to gentle oxidants and reducing agents. Crystalline samples do not dissolve at room temperature. Polyethylene (other than cross-linked polyethylene) usually can be dissolved at elevated temperatures in aromatic hydrocarbons such as toluene or xylene, or in chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethane or trichlorobenzene.

Polyethylene absorbs almost no water. The gas and water vapour permeability (only polar gases) is lower than for most plastics; oxygen, carbon dioxide and flavorings on the other hand can pass it easily.

PE can become brittle when exposed to sunlight, carbon black is usually used as a UV stabilizer.

Polyethylene burns slowly with a blue flame having a yellow tip and gives off an odour of paraffin (similar to candle flame). The material continues burning on removal of the flame source and produces a drip.

Polyethylene cannot be imprinted or bonded with adheasives without pretreatment. High strength joins are readily achieved with plastic welding.

Polyvinyl Chloride

Polyvinyl chloride (colloquial: polyvinylvinyl; abbreviated: PVC) is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, after polyethylene and polypropylene. About 40 million tonnes are produced per year.

PVC comes in two basic forms: rigid (sometimes abbreviated as RPVC) and flexible. The rigid form of PVC is used in construction for pipe and in profile applications such as doors and windows. It is also used in making bottles, non-food packaging, and cards (such as bank or membership cards). It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers, the most widely used being phthalates. In this form, it is also used in plumbing, electrical cable insulation, imitation leather, flooring, signage, phonograph records, inflatable products, and many applications where it replaces rubber With cotton or linen, it is used to make canvas.

Pure polyvinyl chloride is a white, brittle solid. It is insoluble in alcohol but slightly soluble in tetrahydrofuran.

Chemical properties

PVC is chemically resistant to acids, salts, bases, fats, and alcohols, making it resistant to the corrosive effects of sewage, which is why it is so extensively utilized in sewer piping systems. It is also resistant to some solvents, this, however, is reserved mainly for uPVC (unplasticized PVC). Plasticized PVC, also known as PVC-P, is in some cases less resistant to solvents. For example, PVC is resistant to fuel and some paint thinners. Some solvents may only swell it or deform it but not dissolve it, but some, like tetrahydrofuran or acetone, may damage it.

Most LDPE, MDPE, and HDPE grades have excellent chemical resistance, meaning they are not attacked by strong acids or strong bases, and are resistant to gentle oxidants and reducing agents. Crystalline samples do not dissolve at room temperature. Polyethylene (other than cross-linked polyethylene) usually can be dissolved at elevated temperatures in aromatic hydrocarbons such as toluene or xylene, or in chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethane or trichlorobenzene.

Polyethylene absorbs almost no water. The gas and water vapour permeability (only polar gases) is lower than for most plastics; oxygen, carbon dioxide and flavorings on the other hand can pass it easily.

PE can become brittle when exposed to sunlight, carbon black is usually used as a UV stabilizer.

Polyethylene burns slowly with a blue flame having a yellow tip and gives off an odour of paraffin (similar to candle flame). The material continues burning on removal of the flame source and produces a drip.

Polyethylene cannot be imprinted or bonded with adheasives without pretreatment. High strength joins are readily achieved with plastic welding.

Nylon

Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers, based on aliphatic or semi-aromatic polyamides. Nylon is a thermoplastic silky material that can be melt-processed into fibers, films or shapes.

Nylon was the first commercially successful synthetic thermoplastic polymer. DuPont began its research project in 1930. The first example of nylon (nylon 6,6) was produced using diamines on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Hume Carothers at DuPont’s research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station. In response to Carothers’ work, Paul Schlack at IG Farben developed nylon 6, a different molecule based on caprolactam, on January 29, 1938.

Nylon was first used commercially in a nylon-bristled toothbrush in 1938, followed more famously in women’s stockings or “nylons” which were shown at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and first sold commercially in 1940. During World War II, almost all nylon production was diverted to the military for use in parachutes and parachute cord. Wartime uses of nylon and other plastics greatly increased the market for the new materials.

Nylon is made of repeating units linked by amide links similar to the peptide bonds in proteins. Commercially, nylon polymer is made by reacting monomers which are either lactams, acid/amines or stoichiometric mixtures of diamines (-NH2) and diacids (-COOH). Mixtures of these can be polymerized together to make copolymers. Nylon polymers can be mixed with a wide variety of additives to achieve many different property variations. Nylon polymers have found significant commercial applications in fabric and fibers (apparel, flooring and rubber reinforcement), in shapes (molded parts for cars, electrical equipment, etc.), and in films (mostly for food packaging).

Pure polyvinyl chloride is a white, brittle solid. It is insoluble in alcohol but slightly soluble in tetrahydrofuran.

Chemical properties

Nylons are condensation polymers or copolymers, formed by reacting difunctional monomers containing equal parts of amine and carboxylic acid, so that amides are formed at both ends of each monomer in a process analogous to polypeptide biopolymers. Most nylons are made from the reaction of a dicarboxylic acid with a diamine (e.g. PA66) or a lactam or amino acid with itself (e.g. PA6). In the first case, the “repeating unit” consists of one of each monomer, so that they alternate in the chain, similar to the so-called ABAB structure of polyesters and polyurethanes. Since each monomer in this copolymer has the same reactive group on both ends, the direction of the amide bond reverses between each monomer, unlike natural polyamide proteins, which have overall directionality: C terminal → N terminal. In the second case (so called AA), the repeating unit corresponds to the single monomer.

Polycarbonate

 

Polycarbonates (PC) are a group of thermoplastic polymers containing carbonate groups in their chemical structures. Polycarbonates used in engineering are strong, tough materials, and some grades are optically transparent. They are easily worked, molded, and thermoformed. Because of these properties, polycarbonates find many applications. Polycarbonates do not have a unique resin identification code (RIC) and are identified as “Other”, 7 on the RIC list.

Structure

Polycarbonates received their name because they are polymers containing carbonate groups (−O−(C=O)−O−). A balance of useful features, including temperature resistance, impact resistance and optical properties, positions polycarbonates between commodity plastics and engineering plastics.

Production

The main polycarbonate material is produced by the reaction of bisphenol A (BPA) and phosgene COCl
2
. The overall reaction can be written as follows:

Polycarbonatsynthese.svg

The first step of the synthesis involves treatment of bisphenol A with sodium hydroxide, which deprotonates the hydroxyl groups of the bisphenol A.

(HOC6H4)2CMe2 + 2 NaOH → Na2(OC6H4)2CMe2 + 2 H2O

The diphenoxide (Na2(OC6H4)2CMe2) reacts with phosgene to give a chloroformate, which subsequently is attacked by another phenoxide. The net reaction from the diphenoxide is:

Na2(OC6H4)2CMe2 + COCl2 → 1/n [OC(OC6H4)2CMe2]n + 2 NaCl

In this way, approximately one billion kilograms (one million tonnes) of polycarbonate is produced annually. Many other diols have been tested in place of bisphenol A (e.g., 1,1-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)cyclohexane and dihydroxybenzophenone). The cyclohexane is used as a comonomer to suppress crystallisation tendency of the BPA-derived product. Tetrabromobisphenol A is used to enhance fire resistance. Tetramethylcyclobutanediol has been developed as a replacement for BPA.

An alternative route to polycarbonates entails transesterification from BPA and diphenyl carbonate:

(HOC6H4)2CMe2 + (C6H5O)2CO → 1/n [OC(OC6H4)2CMe2]n + 2 C6H5OH

The diphenyl carbonate was derived in part from carbon monoxide, this route being greener than the phosgene method.

The ring-opening polymerization of cyclic carbonates has been investigated.

Properties and processing

Polycarbonate is a durable material. Although it has high impact-resistance, it has low scratch-resistance. Therefore, a hard coating is applied to polycarbonate eyewear lenses and polycarbonate exterior automotive components. The characteristics of polycarbonate compare to those of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA, acrylic), but polycarbonate is stronger and will hold up longer to extreme temperature. Polycarbonate is highly transparent to visible light, with better light transmission than many kinds of glass.

Polycarbonate has a glass transition temperature of about 147 °C (297 °F; 420 K), so it softens gradually above this point and flows above about 155 °C (311 °F; 428 K). Tools must be held at high temperatures, generally above 80 °C (176 °F; 353 K) to make strain-free and stress-free products. Low molecular mass grades are easier to mold than higher grades, but their strength is lower as a result. The toughest grades have the highest molecular mass, but are much more difficult to process.

Unlike most thermoplastics, polycarbonate can undergo large plastic deformations without cracking or breaking. As a result, it can be processed and formed at room temperature using sheet metal techniques, such as bending on a brake. Even for sharp angle bends with a tight radius, heating may not be necessary. This makes it valuable in prototyping applications where transparent or electrically non-conductive parts are needed, which cannot be made from sheet metal. PMMA/Acrylic, which is similar in appearance to polycarbonate, is brittle and cannot be bent at room temperature.

Main transformation techniques for polycarbonate resins:

  • extrusion into tubes, rods and other profiles including multiwall
  • extrusion with cylinders (calenders) into sheets (0.5–20 mm (0.020–0.787 in; 20–787 thou)) and films (below 1 mm (0.039 in; 39 thou)), which can be used directly or manufactured into other shapes using thermoforming or secondary fabrication techniques, such as bending, drilling, or routing. Due to its chemical properties it is not conducive to laser-cutting.
  • injection molding into ready articles

Polycarbonate may become brittle when exposed to ionizing radiation above 25 kGy (J/kg).

Thermoplastic Elastomer

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), sometimes referred to as thermoplastic rubbers, are a class of copolymers or a physical mix of polymers (usually a plastic and a rubber) which consist of materials with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. While most elastomers are thermosets, thermoplastics are in contrast relatively easy to use in manufacturing, for example, by injection molding. Thermoplastic elastomers show advantages typical of both rubbery materials and plastic materials. The benefit of using thermoplastic elastomers is the ability to stretch to moderate elongations and return to its near original shape creating a longer life and better physical range than other materials. The principal difference between thermoset elastomers and thermoplastic elastomers is the type of cross-linking bond in their structures. In fact, crosslinking is a critical structural factor which imparts high elastic properties.

Applications

TPEs are used where conventional elastomers cannot provide the range of physical properties needed in the product. These materials find large application in the automotive sector and in household appliances sector. In 2014 the world market for TPEs reached a volume of ca. 16.7 billion US dollars. About 40% of all TPE products are used in the manufacturing of vehicles  For instance copolyester TPEs are used in snowmobile tracks where stiffness and abrasion resistance are at a premium. Thermoplastic olefins (TPO) are increasingly used as a roofing material. TPEs are also widely used for catheters where nylon block copolymers offer a range of softness ideal for patients. Thermoplastic silicone and olefin blends are used for extrusion of glass run and dynamic weatherstripping car profiles. Styrene block copolymers are used in shoe soles for their ease of processing, and widely as adhesives. Owing to their unrivaled abilities in two-component injection molding to various thermoplastic substrates, engineered TPS materials also cover a broad range of technical applications ranging from automotive market to consumer and medical products. Examples of those are soft grip surfaces, design elements, back-lit switches and surfaces, as well as sealings, gaskets, or damping elements. TPE is commonly used to make suspension bushings for automotive performance applications because of its greater resistance to deformation when compared to regular rubber bushings. Thermoplastics have experienced growth in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry due to the function, cost effectiveness and adaptability to modify plastic resins into a variety of covers, fans and housings. TPE may also be used in medical devices and is also finding more and more uses as an electrical cable jacket and inner insulation. You’ll also be able to find TPE used in some headphone cables.

Thermoplastic Rubber

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), sometimes referred to as thermoplastic rubbers, are a class of copolymers or a physical mix of polymers (usually a plastic and a rubber) which consist of materials with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. While most elastomers are thermosets, thermoplastics are in contrast relatively easy to use in manufacturing, for example, by injection molding. Thermoplastic elastomers show advantages typical of both rubbery materials and plastic materials. The benefit of using thermoplastic elastomers is the ability to stretch to moderate elongations and return to its near original shape creating a longer life and better physical range than other materials. The principal difference between thermoset elastomers and thermoplastic elastomers is the type of cross-linking bond in their structures. In fact, crosslinking is a critical structural factor which imparts high elastic properties.

Applications

TPEs are used where conventional elastomers cannot provide the range of physical properties needed in the product. These materials find large application in the automotive sector and in household appliances sector. In 2014 the world market for TPEs reached a volume of ca. 16.7 billion US dollars. About 40% of all TPE products are used in the manufacturing of vehicles  For instance copolyester TPEs are used in snowmobile tracks where stiffness and abrasion resistance are at a premium. Thermoplastic olefins (TPO) are increasingly used as a roofing material. TPEs are also widely used for catheters where nylon block copolymers offer a range of softness ideal for patients. Thermoplastic silicone and olefin blends are used for extrusion of glass run and dynamic weatherstripping car profiles. Styrene block copolymers are used in shoe soles for their ease of processing, and widely as adhesives. Owing to their unrivaled abilities in two-component injection molding to various thermoplastic substrates, engineered TPS materials also cover a broad range of technical applications ranging from automotive market to consumer and medical products. Examples of those are soft grip surfaces, design elements, back-lit switches and surfaces, as well as sealings, gaskets, or damping elements. TPE is commonly used to make suspension bushings for automotive performance applications because of its greater resistance to deformation when compared to regular rubber bushings. Thermoplastics have experienced growth in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry due to the function, cost effectiveness and adaptability to modify plastic resins into a variety of covers, fans and housings. TPE may also be used in medical devices and is also finding more and more uses as an electrical cable jacket and inner insulation. You’ll also be able to find TPE used in some headphone cables.

Thermoplastic Vulcanite

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), sometimes referred to as thermoplastic rubbers, are a class of copolymers or a physical mix of polymers (usually a plastic and a rubber) which consist of materials with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. While most elastomers are thermosets, thermoplastics are in contrast relatively easy to use in manufacturing, for example, by injection molding. Thermoplastic elastomers show advantages typical of both rubbery materials and plastic materials. The benefit of using thermoplastic elastomers is the ability to stretch to moderate elongations and return to its near original shape creating a longer life and better physical range than other materials. The principal difference between thermoset elastomers and thermoplastic elastomers is the type of cross-linking bond in their structures. In fact, crosslinking is a critical structural factor which imparts high elastic properties.

Applications

TPEs are used where conventional elastomers cannot provide the range of physical properties needed in the product. These materials find large application in the automotive sector and in household appliances sector. In 2014 the world market for TPEs reached a volume of ca. 16.7 billion US dollars. About 40% of all TPE products are used in the manufacturing of vehicles  For instance copolyester TPEs are used in snowmobile tracks where stiffness and abrasion resistance are at a premium. Thermoplastic olefins (TPO) are increasingly used as a roofing material. TPEs are also widely used for catheters where nylon block copolymers offer a range of softness ideal for patients. Thermoplastic silicone and olefin blends are used for extrusion of glass run and dynamic weatherstripping car profiles. Styrene block copolymers are used in shoe soles for their ease of processing, and widely as adhesives. Owing to their unrivaled abilities in two-component injection molding to various thermoplastic substrates, engineered TPS materials also cover a broad range of technical applications ranging from automotive market to consumer and medical products. Examples of those are soft grip surfaces, design elements, back-lit switches and surfaces, as well as sealings, gaskets, or damping elements. TPE is commonly used to make suspension bushings for automotive performance applications because of its greater resistance to deformation when compared to regular rubber bushings. Thermoplastics have experienced growth in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry due to the function, cost effectiveness and adaptability to modify plastic resins into a variety of covers, fans and housings. TPE may also be used in medical devices and is also finding more and more uses as an electrical cable jacket and inner insulation. You’ll also be able to find TPE used in some headphone cables.

Poly(methyl Methacrylate)

Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), also known as acrylic or acrylic glass as well as by the trade names CryluxPlexiglasAcryliteLucite, and Perspex among several others (see below), is a transparent thermoplasticoften used in sheet form as a lightweight or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. The same material can be used as a casting resin, in inks and coatings, and has many other uses.

Although not a type of familiar silica-based glass, the substance, like many thermoplastics, is often technically classified as a type of glass (in that it is a non-crystalline vitreous substance) hence its occasional historical designation as acrylic glass. Chemically, it is the synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate. The material was developed in 1928 in several different laboratories by many chemists, such as William Chalmers, Otto Röhm, and Walter Bauer, and was first brought to market in 1933 by the Rohm and Haas Company under the trademark Plexiglas.

PMMA is an economical alternative to polycarbonate (PC) when tensile strength, flexural strength, transparency, polishability, and UV tolerance are more important than impact strength, chemical resistance and heat resistance. Additionally, PMMA does not contain the potentially harmful bisphenol-A subunits found in polycarbonate. It is often preferred because of its moderate properties, easy handling and processing, and low cost. Non-modified PMMA behaves in a brittle manner when under load, especially under an impact force, and is more prone to scratching than conventional inorganic glass, but modified PMMA is sometimes able to achieve high scratch and impact resistance.

Properties

PMMA is a strong, tough, and lightweight material. It has a density of 1.17–1.20 g/cm3, which is less than half that of glass. It also has good impact strength, higher than both glass and polystyrene; however, PMMA’s impact strength is still significantly lower than polycarbonate and some engineered polymers. PMMA ignites at 460 °C (860 °F) and burns, forming carbon dioxide, water, carbon monoxide and low-molecular-weight compounds, including formaldehyde.

PMMA transmits up to 92% of visible light (3 mm thickness), and gives a reflection of about 4% from each of its surfaces due to its refractive index (1.4905 at 589.3 nm). It filters ultraviolet (UV) light at wavelengths below about 300 nm (similar to ordinary window glass). Some manufacturers add coatings or additives to PMMA to improve absorption in the 300–400 nm range. PMMA passes infrared light of up to 2,800 nm and blocks IR of longer wavelengths up to 25,000 nm. Colored PMMA varieties allow specific IR wavelengths to pass while blocking visible light (for remote control or heat sensor applications, for example).

PMMA swells and dissolves in many organic solvents; it also has poor resistance to many other chemicals due to its easily hydrolyzed ester groups. Nevertheless, its environmental stability is superior to most other plastics such as polystyrene and polyethylene, and PMMA is therefore often the material of choice for outdoor applications.

PMMA has a maximum water absorption ratio of 0.3–0.4% by weight. Tensile strength decreases with increased water absorption. Its coefficient of thermal expansion is relatively high at (5–10)×10−5°C−1.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) (chemical formula (C8H8)x·​(C4H6)y·​(C3H3N)z) is a common thermoplastic polymer. Its glass transition temperature is approximately 105 °C (221 °F). ABS is amorphous and therefore has no true melting point.

ABS is a terpolymer made by polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene. The proportions can vary from 15 to 35% acrylonitrile, 5 to 30% butadiene and 40 to 60% styrene. The result is a long chain of polybutadiene criss-crossed with shorter chains of poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile). The nitrile groups from neighboring chains, being polar, attract each other and bind the chains together, making ABS stronger than pure polystyrene. The styrene gives the plastic a shiny, impervious surface. The polybutadiene, a rubbery substance, provides toughness even at low temperatures. For the majority of applications, ABS can be used between −20 and 80 °C (−4 and 176 °F) as its mechanical properties vary with temperature. The properties are created by rubber toughening, where fine particles of elastomer are distributed throughout the rigid matrix.

Properties

The most important mechanical properties of ABS are impact resistance and toughness. A variety of modifications can be made to improve impact resistance, toughness, and heat resistance. The impact resistance can be amplified by increasing the proportions of polybutadiene in relation to styrene and also acrylonitrile, although this causes changes in other properties. Impact resistance does not fall off rapidly at lower temperatures. Stability under load is excellent with limited loads. Thus, by changing the proportions of its components, ABS can be prepared in different grades. Two major categories could be ABS for extrusion and ABS for injection moulding, then high and medium impact resistance. Generally ABS would have useful characteristics within a temperature range from −20 to 80 °C (−4 to 176 °F).

Lego bricks are made from ABS.

The final properties will be influenced to some extent by the conditions under which the material is processed to the final product. For example, molding at a high temperature improves the gloss and heat resistance of the product whereas the highest impact resistance and strength are obtained by molding at low temperature. Fibers (usually glass fibers) and additives can be mixed in the resin pellets to make the final product strong and raise the maximum operating temperature as high as 80 °C (176 °F). Pigments can also be added, as the raw material original color is translucent ivory to white. The aging characteristics of the polymers are largely influenced by the polybutadiene content, and it is normal to include antioxidants in the composition. Other factors include exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which additives are also available to protect against.

ABS polymers are resistant to aqueous acids, alkalis, concentrated hydrochloric and phosphoric acids, alcohols and animal, vegetable and mineral oils, but they are swollen by glacial acetic acid, carbon tetrachloride and aromatic hydrocarbons and are attacked by concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids. They are soluble in esters, ketones, ethylene dichloride and acetone.

Even though ABS plastics are used largely for mechanical purposes, they also have electrical properties that are fairly constant over a wide range of frequencies. These properties are little affected by temperature and atmospheric humidity in the acceptable operating range of temperatures.

ABS is flammable when it is exposed to high temperatures, such as those of a wood fire. It will melt and then boil, at which point the vapors burst into intense, hot flames. Since pure ABS contains no halogens, its combustion does not typically produce any persistent organic pollutants, and the most toxic products of its combustion or pyrolysis are carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. ABS is also damaged by sunlight. This caused one of the most widespread and expensive automobile recalls in US history due to the degradation of the seatbelt release buttons.

ABS can be recycled, although it is not accepted by all recycling facilities.

Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene

Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPEUHMW) is a subset of the thermoplastic polyethylene. Also known as high-modulus polyethylene, (HMPE), it has extremely long chains, with a molecular mass usually between 3.5 and 7.5 million amu. The longer chain serves to transfer load more effectively to the polymer backbone by strengthening intermolecular interactions. This results in a very tough material, with the highest impact strength of any thermoplastic presently made.

UHMWPE is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic. It embodies all the characteristics of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with the added traits of being resistant to concentrated acids and alkalis, as well as numerous organic solvents. It is highly resistant to corrosive chemicals except oxidising acids; has extremely low moisture absorption and a very low coefficient of friction; is self-lubricating (see boundary lubrication); and is highly resistant to abrasion, in some forms being 15 times more resistant to abrasion than carbon steel. Its coefficient of friction is significantly lower than that of nylon and acetal and is comparable to that of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, Teflon), but UHMWPE has better abrasion resistance than PTFE.

Properties

UHMWPE is a type of polyolefin. It is made up of extremely long chains of polyethylene, which all align in the same direction. It derives its strength largely from the length of each individual molecule (chain). Van der Waals bonds between the molecules are relatively weak for each atom of overlap between the molecules, but because the molecules are very long, large overlaps can exist, adding up to the ability to carry larger shear forces from molecule to molecule. Each chain is bonded to the others with so many van der Waals bonds that the whole of the inter-molecule strength is high. In this way, large tensile loads are not limited as much by the comparative weakness of each van der Waals bond.

When formed into fibres, the polymer chains can attain a parallel orientation greater than 95% and a level of crystallinity from 39% to 75%. In contrast, Kevlar derives its strength from strong bonding between relatively short molecules.

The weak bonding between olefin molecules allows local thermal excitations to disrupt the crystalline order of a given chain piece-by-piece, giving it much poorer heat resistance than other high-strength fibres. Its melting point is around 130 to 136 °C (266 to 277 °F), and, according to DSM, it is not advisable to use UHMWPE fibres at temperatures exceeding 80 to 100 °C (176 to 212 °F) for long periods of time. It becomes brittle at temperatures below −150 °C (−240 °F).

The simple structure of the molecule also gives rise to surface and chemical properties that are rare in high-performance polymers. For example, the polar groups in most polymers easily bond to water. Because olefins have no such groups, UHMWPE does not absorb water readily, nor wet easily, which makes bonding it to other polymers difficult. For the same reasons, skin does not interact with it strongly, making the UHMWPE fibre surface feel slippery. In a similar manner, aromatic polymers are often susceptible to aromatic solvents due to aromatic stacking interactions, an effect aliphatic polymers like UHMWPE are immune to. Since UHMWPE does not contain chemical groups (such as esters, amides or hydroxylic groups) that are susceptible to attack from aggressive agents, it is very resistant to water, moisture, most chemicals, UV radiation, and micro-organisms.

Under tensile load, UHMWPE will deform continually as long as the stress is present—an effect called creep.

When UHMWPE is annealed, the material is heated to 135 °C to 138 °C in an oven or a liquid bath of silicone oil or glycerine. The material is then cooled down at a rate of 5 °C/h to 65 °C or less. Finally, the material is wrapped in an insulating blanket for 24 hours to bring to room temperature.

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