ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene and ASA or Acrylic Styrene Acrylonitrile is a material with great toughness and rigidity, dimensional stability, abrasion resistance, chemical resistance and can perform well under various temperatures. ASA can be considered a UV resistance to ABS with its excellent weatherability and heat resistance. Both ABS and ASA can be vacuumformed and fabricated, but only comes in solid colours.
Acrylic or Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) also referred to as its trademark names Lucite and Perspex is one of the most widely used thermoplastics. It is approximately half the weight of glass and has great impact resistance and surface hardness, and unlike glass it is less vulnerable to shattering. It also has great UV and water/salt resistance. Acrylic comes in a wide variety of colours, gloss and transparencies. Acrylic can be easily fabricated, thermoformed, polished and machined.
HDPE or High-density Polyethylene is a very durable material which can withstand great friction making it well suited to industrial and chemical applications. HDPE is lightweight yet extremely tough even at low temperatures when may other materials get brittle. HDPE is great at containing liquids as it doesn’t absorb liquids and is resistant to stains and odours and has great chemical resistance. HDPE can be vacuumformed, fabricated, machined and welded. HDPE does come in only black or natural with the black having good UV resistance.
HIPS or High Impact Polystyrene is a great point of sale and packaging material because of its light weight, rigidity, impact strength and of course its high gloss surface. HIPS can be vacuumformed, it is printer friendly and is low cost. HIPS comes in black and white.
Kydex is a blend of Acrylic Polyvinyl chloride and is often used as an alternative to leather. From acrylic it obtains great rigidity and formability and from PVC great toughness, chemical resistance and a nice finish. Kydex has great flame retardancy, and is scratch and gouging resistant and there are even UV grades available. Kydex can be vacuumformed, machined and fabricated and comes in a wide variety of colours.
PETG or Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol is a material that only comes in a range of transparencies and has poor weatherability making it designed for interior and point of sale solutions. PETG is great for vacuumforming and fabrication and has great impact strength and is a cost effective alternative for acrylic in some cases.
Polycarbonate or PC or known under its trade names as Lexan, Makrolon, Makroclear is a very durable plastic which is great for applications requiring high impact strength and repeated use. Polycarbinate is lightweight and strong enough to be used as shielding (level 3 bullet resistance) or to minimise the effects of vandalism and theft. Although polycarbonate is slightly less transparent than acrylic it is more dimensionally stable and of course stronger.
Polypropylene or PP is part of the polyolefin family of plastics like TPO’s and can be vacuumformed, machined and welded, but because of its resistance to chemicals it is very difficult to glue. Polypropylene absorbs minimal moisture and is great at transmitting electric force without conduction making it great for electrical applications. Polypropylene can also be easily printed on and comes in a variety of colours and comes in either gloss, matte or an embossed finish.
PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride is widely used in construction because it is durable, cheap, very rigid and easy to work with and is the most widely used of all plastics. PVC has great chemical resistance, mechanical strength, dimensional stability and is easy to machine.
TPO’s or Thermoplastic Polyolefins is an emerging material in the thermoforming industry which consists of polypropylene, polyethylene, rubber and a reinforcing filler. Traditionally TPO’s have been difficult to form and fabricate, but today the material is far more tolerant and with the latest technologies in adhesion, there are now glues available and techniques like ultrasonic welding that make TPO’s a force to be reckoned with. TPO’s are a great all-rounder material and its composite structure gives it unique and advantageous properties.