Plastic materials for industrial machinery
Plastics offer a number of advantages for packaging, conveying, and food processing machinery. Plastic materials are significantly lighter than metals, which reduces weight and saves energy costs for moving parts. Additionally, plastics tend to have good sound deadening characteristics, which allows machinery to run quieter. Plastic materials are tough and durable with many engineered to wear well and stand up to cleaning chemicals.
Applications for plastic materials include:
- Machine guards
- Bearings and bushings
- Star wheels
- Guide rails
- Chain guides
- Flexible tubing
Transparent machine guards
Polycarbonate and acrylic sheet materials are ideal choices for machine guards. They are far more durable than glass and are easy to fabricate and install.
Polycarbonate offers the advantage of superior toughness and impact resistance. Additionally, polycarbonate sheet can be bent into complex shapes using a sheet metal break, which simplifies fabrication since no heating is required.
Acrylic has superior clarity and it is stiffer than polycarbonate. Acrylic is often used for large unsupported machine guards when the impact resistance of polycarbonate is not required.
Both acrylic and polycarbonate are available with hard-coated surfaces that enhance both chemical resistance and scratch resistance.
Plastics for friction and wear applications
Plastics such as UHMW, nylon, and acetal have low friction and outstanding wear characteristics, even in the absence of external lubrication. These materials are widely used in high speed packaging and conveying applications where wear resistance and smooth operation is essential.
UHMW is tough and durable. It performs well in applications such as chute liners and star wheels where low friction and excellent wear performance are required. LubX® CV is a special grade of UHMW with lower friction and superior wear properties compared with standard UHMW.
Acetal (sometimes referred to by the brand name Delrin®) is easy to machine into complex shapes. It has low friction and it has superior strength and stiffness compared with UHMW.
Nylon has outstanding wear characteristics, particularly when it is in contact with metal in dry environments. Nylon is often used for gears, bearings, and bushings, when long wear life is required and external lubrication needs to be avoided.
Semicrystalline PET has strength and stiffness similar to nylon and acetal, however it has superior dimensional stability and stain resistance. It is often specified for tight tolerance food processing machinery applications.
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