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Living in a materials world

Author : Jo Davis, Managing Director

01 June 2020

Plastic plays a practical, often life-enhancing, role in our lives. Lightweight, durable and easy to work with, like many resins today, it could be moulded into an infinite number of shapes.

Polycarbonate used to make the astronaut helmet for the Apollo landing is today used in parts that require clear lenses or windows, from car headlamps to the outer shell of sports helmets (iStock.com-StockImages_AT)

So, how do you go about selecting the best, most sustainable plastic for your moulding venture?

With more than 85,000 listed plastic materials and more than 45 polymer families, Jo Davis, Managing Director at Broanmain Plastics, explains some of the common compositions and characteristics of materials that start in pellet form and why, for the sake of ecology, we should learn to respect its purpose and consider innovative ways to upcycle, recycle and keep plastic out of the waste stream. 

Back to basics

Plastics are essentially atoms that are grouped to form molecules called monomers. These monomers link together to create polymers. That’s why ‘poly’ features in so many plastic materials names.

Polymers all offer varying degrees of strength, resistance, elasticity and even special features such as anti-bacterial or UV protection. The choice will depend on the application, for example, if it needs to withstand high or extremely cold temperatures. 

Narrowing the choices down can feel daunting. Although most customers know what they want, an experienced moulder can make recommendations based upon the environment in which the component is being used, and help customers to consider other usability factors, such as slide action. 

Read the full article in the June issue of DPA.


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