February 22

What are High-Performance Plastics?

High-performance plastics have superior properties above their standard plastic and engineered plastic counterparts. They are typically considered high-performance polymers that can withstand extreme environments, such as high or low temperatures, high pressure or high velocity.

There are many names for these plastics, including high-performance polymers, high-temperature plastics and high-tech plastics. These are all synonymous for plastics that have a continuous service temperature above 150°C. But what makes high-performance plastics better than standard plastics?

What Makes High-Performance Plastic Better?

High-performance plastics are superior as they can be created to have a unique beneficial quality. This is usually high temperature resistance but can also be attributes like electrical and chemical resistance. Through the use of stabilisers or reinforcing materials, high-performance plastics can be adapted to have the characteristic you require for your project.

High-performance polymers are constantly being developed and improved. Because of their superior mechanical attributes, higher chemical and/or heat stability, high-tech plastics are replacing metal and basic plastic in many industries. These include the medical, aircraft, aero-engineering and food processing industries. Let’s have a look at the typical characteristics of these high-tech plastics.

Typical Characteristics of High-Performance Plastics

Thermal stability

Thermal stability is a crucial feature of high-performance plastics. By adding stabilisers or reinforcing materials (e.g. glass and carbon fibres) or increasing the degree of polymerization, improvements to the mechanical and thermal traits of basic plastics can be made.

Substituting aliphatic for aromatic units can also increase stability further. This method can reach operating temperatures up to 130°C. To reach higher levels than this, a common practice is to link aromatics (e.g. phenyl) with sulphur, oxygen or nitrogen. This can lead to operating temperatures from 200°C (PES)  to 260°C (PAI or PEI).

The maximum temperature resistance is approximately 260°C through the use of fluoropolymers. These are polymers where the hydrogen atom of the hydrocarbon has been replaced by fluorine atoms. However, this high-performance polymer is not useful for construction as it has low strength, is rigid and has a strong creep under load.

Crystallinity

Crystallinity

Like all polymers, high-performance plastics are either semi-crystalline or amorphous. Crystalline polymers have both a crystallite melting point and glass transition temperature. The crystallite melting point is usually higher.

This means most crystalline polymers can be used above their glass transition point. Particularly if they’ve been strengthened with fillers. Crystalline polymers also often have a high resistance against chemical substances, such as organic solvents or aqueous acids.

Main Benefits of High-Performance Plastics

Most high-performance polymers are made to specialise in one or two key advantages. Usually it is high temperature resistance, but high-performance plastics also can also:

  • Be strong and light
  • Have high chemical resistance
  • Have low coefficient of friction
  • Have high-quality electrical resistance
  • Be lot and batch traceable

Common Applications of High-Performance Plastics

High-performance polymers are used in many different industries. Common uses include:

  • High heat and shock resistance applications in the aerospace and glass industries
  • Hydrolysis resistant and sterilization components for medical devices
  • Highly resistant, highly insulated or emission proof conducting materials for the electrical engineering industry
  • Aircraft and aerospace industries where they require parts that withstand extreme temperatures
  • Downhole drilling equipment in the oil and gas industries
  • Applications in the x-ray technology and nuclear energy industries

Aircraft

Types of High-Performance Plastic

  • Peek
  • PPS
  • PEI
  • PVF
  • PES
  • PI Polyimide
  • PPSU
  • PSU
  • PTFE

High-performance plastics or high-performance polymers are polymers that have superior elements to standard plastics. This means they make great alternatives for traditional plastics and metal in many industries. Are you looking for expert plastic fabrication in Perth? Get a quote online or call us on (08) 9353 3477 for professional advice and service.


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