Plastic Material Selection Guide

Engineering plastics have been widely used in many industry sectors. Choosing the right material for a particular application is critical to achieving its desired functionality, safety, and service life, thus, the plastic material selection process is the key to successful part design. It is primarily the application conditions that determine the right choice of material. However, in addition to the application conditions, the search for a suitable plastic should also take a number of other considerations into account. Our material selection guide is to help you to narrow down the generic polymer family. There are hundreds of variations to each of the materials listed including, but not limited to, flame retardant, the addition of glass or carbon for strength and or electrical conductivity, scratch resistance formulas, impact resistance formulas, resistance to solvents, and many more properties.

Physical & Mechanical Considerations

What are the overall part dimensions (diameter, length, width, thickness)?
What load will the part have to carry?
Will the design carry high loads?
What will the highest load be?
What is the maximum stress on the part?
What kind of stress is it (tensile, flexural, etc.)?
How long will the load be applied?
Will the load be continuous or intermittent?
Does the part have to retain its dimensional shape?
What is the projected life of the part or design?

Thermal Considerations

What temperatures will the part see and for how long?
What is the maximum temperature the material must sustain?
What is the minimum temperature the material will sustain?
How long will the material be at these temperatures?
Will the material have to withstand impact at the low temperature?
What kind of dimensional stability is required (is thermal expansion and contraction an issue)?

Chemical Considerations

Will the material be exposed to chemicals or moisture?
Will the material be exposed to normal relative humidity?
Will the material be submerged in water? If so, at what temperature?
Will the material be exposed to steam?
Will the material be painted? If so, what kind of paint?
Will the material be glued? If so, what kind of adhesive will be used?
Will the material be submerged or wiped with solvents or other chemicals? If so, which ones?
Will the material be exposed to chemical or solvent vapors? If so, which If so, which ones?
Will the material be exposed to other materials that can outgas or leach detrimental materials, such as plasticizers or petroleum-based chemicals?

Bearing and Wear Considerations

Will the material be used as a bearing? Will it need to resist wear?
Will the material be expected to perform as a bearing? If so, what will the load, shaft diameter, shaft material, shaft finish, and rpm be?
What wear or abrasion condition will the material see? Note: Materials filled with friction reducers (such as PTFE, molybdenum disulfide, or graphite) generally exhibit less wear in rubbing applications.

Other Miscellaneous Considerations

Will the part have to meet any regulatory requirements?
FDA | USDA | Canada AG | 3A-Dairy | NSF | USP Class VI
Is UL94 Flame retardant rating required? What level?
5VA | 5VB | V-0 | V-1 | V-2 | HB
Should the material have a special color and/or appearance?
Natural | White | Black | Other Colors
Color match to another part or material?
Window-Clear | Transparent | Translucent | Opaque
Smooth | Polished | Textured | One-Side or Both
Will the part be used outdoors?
Is UV Resistance needed?
Is static dissipation or conductivity important?
Insulator | Static Dissipative | Conductive