Military and Defense

Durable, lightweight performance plastics that meet specifications for military hardware components

For decades, plastic materials have been specified for use in military hardware components found on missiles, tanks, submarines, fighter jets, unmanned aircraft, telecommunications systems, and other equipment.

To ensure consistent and reliable material performance, military specifications (MIL specs, ASTM specifications and/or SAE specifications) have been developed for a variety of polymers. In addition to standardizing minimum acceptable property values, these standards often specify acceptable shape conversion processes and appropriate uses for those materials. 

In support of defense-related product manufacturing, Curbell Plastics is ITAR compliant company-wide and can supply you with plastic materials and fabricated plastic parts that require this compliance.


Plastic applications for military and defense include:

  • Avionics and instrument panels 
  • Bearings, bushings, gears, cams
  • Locking elements for fasteners
  • Radomes
  • Seals, valves, seats, gaskets
  • Spline couplings
  • Windows, covers, and cases

Common performance plastic materials used in military and defense applications: 


Due to its exceptional performance characteristics, PEEK is a popular material choice for military and defense applications, including seals, gears, electrical connectors, and portable missile fins. PEEK usage is also rapidly growing in space applications such as satellite components due to its resistance to high frequency radiation. 

In addition to unfilled PEEK, 30% glass-filled, 30% carbon-filled, and bearing grades are available in standard stock shapes. Newer woven carbon fabric composite grades of PEEK exhibiting significantly higher strength (~100,000 psi tensile strength) and stiffness (~8.5M psi tensile modulus) are also becoming more commercially available.

Curbell offers PEEK materials in accordance with MIL-P-46183 and ASTM D6262-12 S-PAEK standards.

DuPont™ Vespel® Polyimide

DuPont™ Vespel® polyimide is a high-performance plastic material known for its broad operating temperature range and extreme wear resistance. For decades, DuPont™ Vespel® spline couplings have been utilized to connect rotating metallic shafts on military aircraft. These polymeric splines offer several advantages over their metallic predecessors such as being less abrasive to mating components, requiring no lubrication, reducing noise and vibration, and better accommodating misalignment in service. 

DuPont Vespel Spline Coupling

Another application for DuPont™ Vespel® in military applications is as a self-locking nut element. DuPont™ Vespel® locking elements are often rated for use up to 450°F in threaded fasteners. DuPont™ Vespel® is also seeing growth in the space market due to its long-term reliability and ability to operate effectively in vacuum conditions. 

Standard certifications for DuPont™ Vespel® polyimide include AMS 3644G and ASTM D6456-99. Note that these have functionally replaced the obsolete MIL-R-46198 spec.

Other Engineering Plastics

We regularly receive requests from military and defense contractors for a variety of other engineering plastic materials like nylon, Ultem®, acetal (Delrin®), PTFE, and PCTFE. Plastics are popular choices for seals, bearings, bushings, and insulative components. 

They can offer many advantages over alternative materials including:

  • Reduced weight
  • Reduced noise and vibration
  • Self-lubrication
  • Resilience and impact resistance
  • Resistance to greases, fuels, and other chemicals
  • Improved aesthetics
  • Transparency

Inactive MIL Specifications Reference Table

Specifications for engineering plastics, change relatively frequently. Some inactive specifications for military and defense we commonly see requests for are referenced in the table below. 

Inactive Specification Title Status Notes  
MIL-P-21922 Rev B Plastic Rods and Tubes, Polyethylene Superseded by MIL-PRF-21922C  
MIL-PRF-21922 Rev C Plastic Rods and Tubes, Polyethylene Superseded by SAE AMS-P-21922  
MIL-P-19336 Rev C Plastic Sheets, Polyethylene, Virgin and Borated, Neutron Shielding Canceled (no superseding spec)  
MIL-P-22035 Plastic Sheets and Sheeting, Polyethylene Superseded by L-P-512 which has been superseded by ASTM D 2103  
MIL-P-26692 Plastic Tubes and Tubing, Polyethylene Canceled (no superseding spec)  
MIL-P-3803 Plastic, Polyethylene, Molded, & Extruded Shapes Canceled  
MIL-M-19098 Molding Plastic, Polyamide (Nylon), and Molded and Extruded Polyamide Plastic Parts - Weather Resistant Superseded by MIL-M-20693  
MIL-P-17091 Rev B Polyamide (Nylon) Plastic, Rigid, Molded Parts, Rods and Flats Superseded by MIL-M-20693 and L-P-410  
MIL-P-46060 Plastic, Polyamide (Nylon), Rigid Rods, Tubes and Flats Superseded by L-P-410  
MIL-M-20693 Rev B Molding Plastic, Polyamide (Nylon), Rigid Superseded by ASTM D 4066  
MIL-R-46198 Resin, Polyimide, Hot Pressed or Pressed and Sintered Superseded by ASTM PS93, which is no longer active  

Fabrication and Machining Services

Take advantage of our plastic fabrication and machining services to save time and money on plastic parts. Utilizing in-house capabilities and partnering with fabrication specialists we provide customers with reliable fabrication solutions, machined parts and cut-to-size materials for any application.

Quote your project

Which plastic materials are right for your military and defense application? Contact us today.
With access to the latest high-performance plastic materials — and the expertise to assist with selection and troubleshooting — Curbell Plastics can help you with all of your military and defense challenges.

We serve customers in all corners of the United States and into Canada from locations nationwide, and we have distribution centers in several areas that are crucial for the military and defense industry. We have ISO 9001 certification for multiple locations, and we maintain ITAR and EAR compliance company-wide

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Frequently Asked Questions
Can Curbell Plastics supply materials that conform to MIL specs, ASTM specifications, and/or SAE specifications?

Yes. We routinely supply plastic materials for military and defense applications that conform to external specifications including MIL, ASTM and SAE. These specifications sometimes require properties testing and additional charges may apply.

Can you provide the material certifications and documentation I need to support my military application requirements?

Absolutely. We understand the certification needs of our military equipment manufacturers and the importance of documented material traceability. Curbell Plastics has ISO 9001 certification at multiple locations and experience providing:

  • Manufacturers’ lot and batch numbers
  • Material properties test reports
  • Certifications to ASTM and SAE / AMS standards
  • Certifications to MIL specs
Can Curbell Plastics process orders that require compliance with U.S. export control laws?

Yes. Curbell Plastics is registered with the U.S. State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and we have an export controls compliance program in place. This allows us to participate in work that is covered under ITAR and EAR regulations.

My material has special requirements related to flammability, fungal growth, corrosion resistance (salt spray), etc. Can you help?

Yes. We deal with a wide variety of special requirements. If you share the details with our team, we will work with you to identify material options that best meet your needs.