Applications that involve friction or abrasion can subject plastic parts installed on machinery or equipment to accelerated wear. For these types of applications, plastic compounds which are capable of withstanding the increased wear and tear must be chosen to reduce part failure and replacement costs. In this blog, we highlight some of the plastic compounds which are suitable for making wear resistant plastic parts.
Friction and abrasion: two primary causes of wear
Wear takes place as two surfaces contact each other, causing material to be gradually removed. This can cause the surfaces of parts to lose material, affecting their dimensional precision and leading to loss of performance or outright failure. Examples of plastic parts that are often subjected to wear include bearings, gears, bushings, seals, and skirting.
Friction and abrasion are two primary causes of wear in parts. Frictional wear occurs when two mating surfaces move or slide against each other. Friction is the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another. Friction generates heat – plastic parts which are subjected to friction can soften or deform. For this reason, high temperature plastic polymers are often a good choice for making parts which will be subjected to friction.
Abrasive wear happens when a harder surface scrapes against its softer mate. Abrasive wear manifests itself with gouging or cutting of the softer surface. Plastic polymers with an inherent “toughness” are the best choice for parts which will be subjected to abrasive wear.
Wear increases part life cycle costs which go beyond the acquisition cost of the material chosen. Failing to use the right plastic compound results in accelerated part wear and failure, driving the costs related to equipment downtime, maintenance interventions and part failure and replacement.
Wear resistant plastic parts: plastic compounds
Currently, a large number of plastic polymers are available in the marketplace. Below we highlight specific compounds that are suitable for producing wear resistant plastic parts.
Acetal. Acetal is a rigid material that is strong and features a low coefficient of friction. Because this material remains stable at higher temperatures, it is often a good choice for wear resistant parts which will be subjected to increased temperatures.
HDPE. High density polyethylene (HDPE) is very rigid material, with a high density-to-strength ratio. HDPE sheet can be formed by a wide variety of thermoplastic processing methods and the material is particularly useful for producing parts used in applications where wear and moisture resistance are required.
Nylon. Nylon tends to absorb more moisture than most plastic polymers, affecting the material’s dimensional stability and physical properties. However, nylon has high impact strength and shock absorbing properties, coupled with a low coefficient of friction, good electrical properties, and ability to resist chemicals. This makes it a good choice for wear resistant parts used in applications involving abrasion and friction. High-temperature nylon compounds are available for producing wear resistant parts used in applications involving higher temperatures.
PEEK. Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) is a colourless organic thermoplastic polymer. It has excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties that are maintained at high temperatures. It is an excellent choice for wear resistant plastic parts that are used in demanding applications, such as bearings and pump and piston parts.
Polycarbonate. This material has good impact strength, high heat resistance, and good dimensional stability. It is also stable in water and mineral or organic acids. Polycarbonate is a good compound choice for wear part applications involving higher temperatures.
UHMW-PE. Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW-PE, often called UHMW) has extremely low moisture absorption, a very low coefficient of friction, is self-lubricating and is highly resistant to abrasion – the material is 10 times more resistant to abrasion than carbon steel. UHMW has the highest impact strength of any thermoplastic presently made and is highly resistant to corrosive chemicals, with the exception of oxidizing acids. UHMW-PE is a good choice for wear resistant plastic parts used in abrasive applications.
Because there are a variety of plastic materials and grades available the marketplace for producing wear resistant plastic parts, CRG can provide guidance on selecting the best material for your application. All parts are produced in our ISO 9001:2015-registered facility using the latest CNC technology, ensuring superior part finish with no burrs, as well as tight conformity to specifications and tolerances. Throughout the production process, parts are subjected to stringent quality control, and a final inspection is carried out on all orders before they are shipped.
The CRG team is available to support you across all aspects of the product realization process, from design to prototyping through to final part production. If you want to learn more about the wear resistant plastic parts we can supply, please contact our sales department for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org.