Can plastic fasteners handle the tough conditions of winter weather? 

Many of Craftech’s plastic fasteners end up inside for their entire useful life but some of the parts will be exposed to the elements.  Craftech plastic fasteners are used in cars, boats, airplanes, and satellites.  Looking back at a post we did on Craftech’s top 5 materials for plastic fasteners, we have gathered some information on how those materials would be able to handle the harsh effects of winter.

In order to determine which plastics would perform well even in Canada’s February, we chose three major criteria:

A)     Water Absorption Percentage: With snow, hail, and freezing rain, winter is certainly wet.  Water absorption can significantly weaken a plastic fastener.  What plastics have a low enough water absorption percentage to beat the snow?

B)      Compatibility with Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt): Come winter, rock salt is everywhere.  It coats our cars and our streets.  Can the plastic resist exposure to sodium chloride?

C)      Low Service Temperature:  Which plastics have a low enough service temperature to prevent the plastic from cracking or breaking during the winter months?

Now let’s examine how Craftech’s top 5 plastic fasteners materials might survive the fast-approaching snowy season.

1)      NYLON

One of the most popular materials in the plastic fastener industry, nylon 6/6 has good mechanical properties and is wear resistant. Nylon absorbs more water than the other plastics on this list.  Its absorption rate ranges from .6-1.2% over 24 hours.  Although that’s a comparatively high water absorption rate in the world of plastics, nylon is still highly water repellant compared to other many non-plastic materials.  For this reason, many ski jackets are made from a nylon fabric to make the product water resistant and durable.  Just don’t submerge nylon fasteners in water for a long time and you shouldn’t have any problems.

Rock salt’s effect on nylon 6/6 is minimal.  In fact, nylon is used in winter tires, a product that is almost continually exposed to rock salt.  Nylon is typically used to make the cap ply of car tires which are made to increase the tire’s strength and durability.

Nylon 6/6 can also withstand temperatures as low as -75 F°.  So unless you’re using your plastic fasteners in Antarctica, where the lowest recorded temperature is 135.8 F°, your parts should perform well right through the winter.

2)      TEFLON

Teflon’s water absorption percentage is <.01, making it the most water resistant plastic on this list. Teflon coating spray is used to keep snow blower machine parts from rusting. Teflon coating is also an excellent choice for snow blowers because it can endure temperatures as low as -454 F°.  Even in Antarctica, Teflon will perform consistently.

With its high resistance to chemicals, TEFLON is not affected by sodium chloride. It’s durability against salt and water makes it an ideal material for automotive vehicles traveling in wet winter conditions. It’s even used to coat windshield wiper blades on cars.

3)      PEEK

PEEK is another great plastic for the winter elements. Aircrafts use PEEK because it can handle temperatures as low as -65 degrees Fahrenheit, has a water absorption percentage of only .15% and it’s compatible with sodium chloride.  For instance, the Airbus A380 uses PEEK for fuel manhole covers because of PEEK’s low moisture absorption properties.

4)      ULTEM™

Ultem™ plastic fasteners are another great option for winter. The plastic works well with sodium chloride and its water absorption percentage ranges from .18% for Ultem™ 2300 to .25% for Ultem™ 1000. As with nylon, Ultem™ should perform well in watery conditions as long as it is not immersed in water for a long time.

Ultem™’s low water absorption rate makes it in demand for electrical and lighting applications. For example, automotive headlight reflectors are made of Ultem™.  Ultem™ also has a low service temperature of -40 F°, so your headlights won’t crack this upcoming holiday season.

5)      KYNAR® (PVDF)

With its strong resistance to water absorption, .03%, PVDF is used to provide protective coatings on architectural fabrics and is used for water filtration membranes.

With a high tolerance of sodium chloride and a low service temperature of -148 F°, there’s no wonder why architects use it for a protective coating. When the winter comes along, a PVDF covered building can hold its own.

In conclusion, all five of these materials would make winter-proof plastic fasteners. For a quick comparison of the plastics, please refer to the chart below:

Nylon    Teflon   PEEK     Ultem 1000 Ultem 2300 Kynar (PVDF)
Water Absorption Percentage

over 24 hours

 .6-1.2  <.01  .15  .25  .18  .03
Reaction to Sodium Chloride  None  None  None  None  None  None
Low Service Temperature  -75 F  -454 F  -65 F  -40 F  -40 F  -148 F

Do you know of another material that does well in wintery conditions? Please share in the comments section below.

Looking for more plastic fastener mechanical properties and chemical resistance data?  Check out our free Material Guide.


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