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Creating Optimal Plastic Parts and Components 

Written by MS
26/10/2020 12:00:27


In recent blogs, we have been looking at a variety of plastic manufacturing and machining methods. We now covered everything from injection moulding to laser cutting, so this week we wanted to think about why you should choose to use plastic parts and components in your business. 
 
Designers, engineers, and buyers all work to increase profitability and efficiency. Businesses - across all sectors - want to gain advantages over their competitors. Some companies spend large parts of their yearly budgets on research and development just to get an edge in their field. 
 
To help make the correct and most valuable decisions, one needs a good grasp on the world of resistant materials. With some materials having unique properties such as high-heat resistance or the ability to work in extreme environments such as nuclear, it’s best to know your LDPEs from your HDPEs and so on. 
 
We’ve mentioned before that plastics are a great alternative to metal components due to the sheer variety of different materials available. Plastics can be found to fit any number of business goals and typically cost a fraction of the price of traditional industrial materials such as steel. 
 
In order for a plastic to perform optimally, great care has to be taken at all levels of the manufacturing process. From the design process to selecting the appropriate materials and the eventual machining of a component, you want to make sure that thought is given to every step of the manufacturing cycle. An end-product that is well-considered will always outperform those that have been haphazardly put together. 
 
As in all things, there are trade-offs to be made. A polymer might be chosen for its ability to perform well in one certain area, but this could mean it’s not suitable for another use. Material, processing and labour costs are other considerations that have to be made too. You can’t always have a material that works in all scenarios. 
 
At Barkston Ltd and The Plastic People, we work directly with our customers to ensure that the best decisions are made at stages of the manufacturing process. We have over 50 years of experience servicing a variety of industries and so we are experts in plastic parts. We want to know your goals for your business so we can help you develop solutions. 
 
Advantages for Business:
 
Temperature & Humidity Ranges:
 
Like many other materials, the properties of any plastic change in different temperatures and environments. Some plastics may soften in high heats, while others become less resistant in low temperatures. The level of chemical resistance may also be affected by dramatic changes in temperature. Understanding the temperature range is perhaps the most important consideration when designing a plastic part. You should have a good understanding of the environment you want your components to work in before committing money to the development of a new part. 
 
These changing characteristics can also play to your favour, however. You might need a plastic that becomes more resistant to acids or bases when the temperature of machinery increases, for example. There is definitely a solution to your problems with plastic. 
 
Time & Stress:
 
Now, while lead times is one consideration when it comes to choosing the correct material, you should also be thinking about how long your plastic parts will be placed in a high-stress or strain environment. Certain materials are simply more durable meaning they can be used for longer times without being replaced and can operate at peak efficiency even if they have been put to work for hours at a time. 
 
Friction and Wear:
 
One of the main benefits of plastic parts over metal ones is their ability to create frictionless environments. This means that low friction polymers are less susceptible to general wear-and-tear and can be used for longer. Wear itself is a complex behaviour that can be induced in several ways, including via abrasion, adhesion or as a result of fatigue. By understanding the intended purpose of any plastic part, we can choose the correct polymeric compound which will be most effective for you. 
 
Load:
 
The specific load imposed upon plastic is another important factor in ensuring optimal performance. In one environment, it may be necessary to put a part under pressure for an extended amount of time, while in another process, a part may be subject to short vibrational loads. Good polymer selection will improve strength to weight ratios. 
 
Agency Approvals:
 
There are several governing bodies which dictate what materials are suitable for use in certain industries. For example, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) only allows food to be packaged in a select number of different plastic resins. This is to ensure that we are creating safe environments. If you work with a plastic specialist, such as ourselves, you can rest assured that any plastic parts will be up to standard and approved by all appropriate agencies. 
 
Assembly:
 
It is well known in the fabrication industry that certain materials respond better than others to assembly steps such as welding, bonding and fastening. Some plastics can easily be attached to non-plastic parts and still function at full capacity, while other materials might have their molecular structure altered by any attempts at such fusion. Understanding which materials and parts work well together is key to guaranteeing effective operation. 
 
Appearance:
 
The appearance of something is always a key consideration in design work. Plastic parts can be manufactured in a variety of colours and finishes. The gloss, smoothness or a part might alter its ability to be productive in certain environments. Nonetheless, you might want to change the appearance of a part for purely aesthetic purposes, for instance, it might be more pleasing to the customer. Whatever your reasoning, the appearance of a component is an important concern of designers. 
 
Cost: 
 
This is an obvious point to make: some materials cost more than others. Before choosing what polymers to use, you must consider the manufacturing and operating costs to see if it's sustainable for your business. You may have to opt for a cheaper - perhaps less effective material - if the price is too high. 
 
Availability:
 
The global pandemic has demonstrated to all of us what happens when distribution chains are disrupted. If you need a reliable plastic part which might have to be replaced often, you need to choose a common polymer that can be located easily. In some special environments, however, you may need a polymer which is harder to source, leading to increased manufacturing times and costs. 
 
Plastic parts that perform at the desired capacity have all been designed and manufactured with the above consideration in mind. The most economical polymers and plastic parts are those that have been chosen in light of their different properties and characteristics, and these are the components that will help your business outperform competitors. 
 
Our team of Plastic Experts has experienced working for a variety of SMEs, OEMs and other businesses in a myriad of industries from power and nuclear to pharmaceuticals and food. We know how to manufacture plastic parts that lead to the results businesses owners want to see. 
 
Whatever your business needs, get in touch today and see how we can help you develop and become more successful with plastics. Email us today at service@barkstonltd.co.uk. If you want to download this information as PDF, click here



 
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