Plastic components come in many different flavors.   If you’re new to the world of plastic, sifting through the thousands of different plastic materials and grades may seem like a daunting task.  So to give you a jump start on the process, we’ve sampled the five most popular materials for plastic fasteners.

Here are our unflinching, open-eyed reviews:

1)     NYLON

Nylon components are some of the most popular available.  Nylon is frequently used when a low cost, high mechanical strength, rigid and stable material is required.  Nylon hardware is also easy to dye and can be made in a wide variety of colors.  Once dyed, nylon exhibits superior colorfastness and is less susceptible to fading from sunlight and ozone and to yellowing from nitrous oxide.

Nylon fasteners can also be molded quickly and in very thin sections, as the material loses its viscosity to a remarkable degree when molded.  Nylon does not withstand moisture and watery environments well and is not recommended for marine use.

Pros: Low cost, high mechanical strength, easily dyed.

Cons: Not good in watery environments, cannot handle extreme temperatures.

2)      TEFLON

Teflon is hydrophobic and is used as a non-stick coating for pans and other cookware. Teflon exhibits low friction and can be used for applications where sliding action of parts is needed, such as plain bearings and gears.  Teflon is very non-reactive and is often used in containers and pipework for reactive and corrosive chemicals.  Teflon fasteners have excellent dielectric properties and a high melting temperature.  Teflon has a wide variety of other applications including coating bullets and use in medical and laboratory equipment.

Pros: Hydrophobic, low friction, non-reactive.

Cons: No strength.

3)      PEEK

PEEK is a high strength alternative to fluoropolymers with an upper continuous-use temperature of 250°C (480°F). PEEK fasteners exhibit excellent mechanical and thermal properties, chemical inertness, creep resistance at high temperatures, very low flammability, hydrolysis resistance, and radiation resistance. These properties make PEEK popular in the aircraft, automotive, semiconductor, and chemical processing industries.

PEEK is used for wear and load bearing applications such as valve seats, pump gears, and compressor valve plates.

Pros: Temperature and chemical resistant, creep resistant, good mechanical and thermal properties.

Cons: Expensive, about $60/lb in raw form.

4)      ULTEM®

Ultem® is a semi-transparent high temperature plastic material with extremely high strength and stiffness. Ultem® fasteners are resistant to hot water and steam and can withstand repeated cycles in a steam autoclave. Ultem® has outstanding electrical properties and one of the highest dielectric strengths of any commercially available thermoplastic material.  Ultem® hardware is available in glass-filled grades for enhanced strength and stiffness.

Pros: Strong and stiff, excellent electrical properties, high dielectric strength.

Cons: Somewhat expensive, $11/lb in raw form, has poor resistance to some alkali salts.

5)      KYNAR® (PVDF)

PVDF parts are used in the power, renewable energies, and chemical processing industries for their excellent resistance to temperature, harsh chemicals and nuclear radiation.  PVDF is also used in the pharmaceutical, food & beverage and semiconductor industries for its high purity and availability in a multitude of forms.  PVDF can also be used in the mining, plating and metal preparation industries for its resistance to hot acids of a wide range of concentrations.  PVDF is also used in the automotive and architectural markets for its chemical resistance and excellent resistance to UV degradation and weather

Pros: Chemical resistance, resistance to UV and weather.

Cons: Expensive, not as strong as some materials and cannot handle super high temperatures.

These are the top five materials for plastic hardware but there are many other excellent materials available.  Do you have experience working with parts made from the materials above?  Or maybe you prefer a different material?

Let us know what’s worked for you in the comments section below.

Interested in learning more about high performance plastics?  Check out our High Performance Material Guide.

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