The physical properties of injection moldable materials vary from the soft flexibility of gum rubber to the brittleness of glass; temperature resistance varies from complete softening and dissolving in hot water to an ability to withstand a brief exposure to flame. Costs vary from a few cents to several dollars a pound.
The decision as to which material to use for an application need not be a difficult one since over ninety percent of thermoplastic parts used are made from no more than a dozen basic materials. Often a part can be successfully made from any one of a number of available materials. Listed in this section are the most commonly used thermoplastics with a brief description of their most notable characteristics and uses.
ABS – A.B.S. is a copolymer – mixture of acrylic, butadiene, and styrene.
Acetal – Parts which must maintain a springiness such as latches and snap catches are usually made of acetal since it strives to retain its molded shape.
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Acrylic – This material has good optical clarity.
Nylon – As any ardent fisherman will know, nylon is a tough material with a high resistance to abrasion.
Phenylene Oxide – This is a high-temperature resistant material used for electrical components such as switch holdings and junction boxes.
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Polycarbonate – This material is extremely tough. Impact resistance is its real asset.
Polyester – Polyester is dimensionally stable and has low moisture absorption.
Polyethylene – Many food containers used in the home are polyethylene.
Polypropylene – This is the lowest density common plastic.
Polysulfone – Polysulfone is strong, rigid and has a very high heat-deflection temperature along with excellent electrical properties.
Styrene – It has low resistance to chemicals and heat, will solvent bond easily.
Urethane – The wear resistance of this material is often many times that of rubber compounds.
Vinyl – Most electrical wire coverings and plugs are made of vinyl.