Choosing the BEST material

plastics material selectionSuccessful companies are continually seeking to evaluate each area of operation for effectiveness and efficiency. From technology, to operations, to personnel, success is built on continual improvement and adaptation. One of the many areas ACI Plastics is a critical partner in the success of our customers is by assisting to make improvements in material selection.

Do your nylon applications swell when they get wet? Are those acetal parts wearing out too soon, causing you an enormous amount of downtime? Are your olefins creeping and squishing into places they should not be? Perhaps it is time to evaluate the conditions and applications, and upgrade into a more suitable and effective engineered material. All too often companies make material selections based on cost alone. Perhaps a closer look at effectiveness and total cost is warranted.

Case study #1:

A glass manufacturing plant uses machined phenolic parts at $4 per piece as resting blocks for windshields as they come out of an autoclave. Due to the extreme heat, the parts last approximately 8 hours, and are changed and discarded. The plant uses 100 parts per 8-hour shift ($400) and 1152 shifts per year ($460,000). The cost is nearly half a million dollars for one $4 part. That same part is replaced by a polyimide at a cost of $25 per piece. That same part lasts 6 months before they are replaced. That is $25 x 100 parts every 6 months at a total cost of $5,000 per year. Net savings of $455,000 by changing from a $4 part to one that costs $25.

Case study #2:

A bottling plant uses UHMW rails for slide wear as the product goes down the line. In sharp corners, the maintenance crew has to change them out every month due to extreme wear. Each 10 ft. strip costs $12. (total usage 50/month or $7,200 annually). By replacing the UHMW with a filled or lubricated product which costs $22 per piece, we can extend wear to 3 months. Total annual cost is $4400, saving the company $2,800 by using a part nearly twice as expensive.

Both case studies are provided without the inclusion of savings in labor costs, machine burden rate, and down time. If you are not producing product for sale, you are losing more than the material cost. In case study number 1, the actual annual savings turned out to be $980,000+. Yes, nearly a million dollars in savings.

Selecting materials based on cost alone is a common error in plastic. Let us assist you in your material selection, so you can maximize your maintenance dollars and get the most from your budget. The following list is an excellent resource for assisting in material selection.


Are there limitations to machining this part from sheet tube or rod? Is the material available in that size? Know your choices.


Is your part going to be exposed to extreme temperatures? Hot or Cold? Know your operating temperature.


Is your part going to be a wear part, a sealing part, a connector, a shield, a window, a guard?  Know where it is to be used.


Is the part exposed to wet, dry, caustic, acidic, sunlight? Know what it will be exposed to.


Will your part be in a vacuum, squeezed between 2 parts, under a load? Know what pressure it is exposed to.


Does your part require regulatory certifications? UL 94VO? Does it require a certain Dielectric strength? Static dissipation a must? Know what is required.


Can you machine the part as it is laid out? Can you hold the tolerance expected? Is the quality standard realistic? Know your limitations.


The post office will not deliver a package unless it is STAMPED, and neither will we.

Contact ACI PLASTICS to help you make the best material selections for your projects.


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