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The are many things to consider when deciding on what type of resin to use in the manufacturing of your plastic parts. What works for one product may not work for another, as every plastic material has its own unique characteristics and benefits.

In order to fully understand how to choose the perfect material for your plastic part you need to understand your product. So, as you weigh your options, consider these questions.

What is the intended use of your product?

The first, and most important, thing you need to consider is how your product is meant to be used. Is it meant to hold liquids? Does it need to withstand high heat or pressure? Will it come into contact with food or be used for medical purposes?

Having a clear idea of how your product will be used will be a major determining factor in the type of plastic you need.

For example, both high density Polyethylene and low density Polyethylene, respectively known as HDPE and LDPE, are known for being waterproof materials. You frequently see them used in milk jugs, soda bottles, or outdoor furniture. If you know you’ll be using your products to contain or withstand contact with liquids, you’ll need to choose a material that can stand up to the job.

How long is it meant to last?

Durability is another important factor to consider when determining which plastic material is best suited to your needs.

If your product is sold as a one-time use item, such as disposable cups or plastic grocery bags, you can opt for a less durable plastic material. Materials such as polyethylene (PE) or polystyrene (PS) are inexpensive and capable of withstanding light usage.

On the other hand, if your product is expected to withstand the test of time, you’ll need to use a stronger resin that will not break down. Take cell phone parts, for example. Cell phones need to be capable of handling frequent and often heavy usage, and should be able to withstand the occasional fall. That’s why many cell phone manufacturers use a highly durable blend of Polycarbonate and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (PC/ABS).

Are there any standards or regulations that need to be met?

If you are producing products that have to meet specific regulations or standards, you must be careful to not only choose an appropriate plastic material, but also to choose a manufacturer who is certified to produce it.

For example, if you are producing a plastic medical device, you need to be sure that you are using a material that is biocompatible, such as Polyetheretherketone (PEEK). In addition, the manufacturer you work with will need to be ISO 13485 Certified.

For plastic products in the pharmaceutical or food industries, you’ll need to consider the material’s resistance to various solvents and levels of heat.

Some of the most common agencies that require detailed regulations include the USDA, the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), 3A Dairy for dairy equipment, the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), and Canada AG. The latter is important in Canada, if you’re intending to sell a plastic food container there.

How do you want it to look?

Since the aesthetic quality of your product can factor into whether people buy it, you’ll want to also consider how a particular plastic material will look when it’s finished.

Do you want a matte or high-gloss finish? Should the material be translucent or opaque? Will you need to paint or glue the product after it is made? The answer to these questions will help you determine the plastic you need to achieve the right look.

For example, if you need a material that can be painted or glued, ABS plastic is one of the best choices. This is also one of the most affordable plastic materials available. Many manufacturers use it for this very reason and because it looks good in a variety of products.

The options available for manufacturing plastic parts is vast and diverse. For that reason, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what material is right for your product. Once you’ve answered these questions, contact a professional to discuss which materials meet all of your needs. With the right advice and the right resin, you can be confident that you’ll get a perfect plastic product.