Why should plastics be considered as either replacement materials or in a new, ground-up design?
Plastics, as a general family of products, share several demonstrable advantages over traditional materials (metals, wood, glass, etc.):
For example, nylon is 1/16 the weight of steel, acrylic is 1/2 the weight of glass and PVC is 1/16 the weight of copper. The lower weight per cubic inch of plastics can result in power savings (lower horsepower needs), labour savings (less personnel required to install a product) and other potential benefits.
Most plastics withstand the effects of common chemicals, water and a wide variety of solvents, acids and other corrosive liquids.
Plastics can take a punch! Their inherent ability to resist breakage from impact makes them a wise choice in tough applications in both commercial and industrial settings.
There can be considerable cost savings when the need to lubricate is reduced or even eliminated. Plastics can also include additives that improve their inherent good to excellent wear properties. This is especially true in the class of engineering plastics.
Closely linked to low-friction characteristics, products that wear longer reduce maintenance needs, promote longer run-times and can result in improved productivity.
Other than glass, what other non-plastic materials are transparent? Plastics can combine light transmittance, light weight, strength and impact resistance to achieve truly unique products.
Ease of Machining/Fabrication
Plastics are typically easier to machine than most metals, cause less wear on machine tools, are easier to handle during the machining process, reduce finishing costs, are easily decorated and can exhibit integral color.
Contrary to some misguided popular opinions, plastics are green! Plastics require far less energy to produce than metals and glass and many types are recyclable. Their light weight helps fuel efficiency on cars, trucks and airplanes. Plastics are good insulators, saving heating and cooling costs, resulting in more comfortable living spaces. In addition, bio-degradable plastics are becoming more readily available.
Remember, it is always important to correctly match the material to the application, keeping in mind several factors, resulting in an optimum value proposition.