Category Archive: Uncategorized
Materials touted as “all natural alternatives” to plastic were often actually replaced by plastic decades ago because it was better for the environment.
Plastics have been saving the planet since long before there was Earth Day, an annual event supporting environmental conservation. Despite the massive amount of single use plastic waste that irresponsibly enters our oceans, plastics actually play an important role in protecting the environment.
In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt used natural cellulose to create a substitute for the ivory used in piano keys, billiard balls, and similar products. The result was a substantial decrease in the slaughter of elephants for their tusks. Hyatt’s invention also replaced tortoise shells used for jewelry, hair combs, picture frames, and many more household items. New plastics were then created and quickly began replacing other environmentally harmful materials. In the 20th century, plastics began to replace paper, natural rubber, and even silk, all of which prevents deforestation.
The reality is that plastic has saved many species from possible extinction expanding access to products for working and middle-class people.
Plastics also replace energy-intensive iron and steel in auto manufacturing, construction and process industries. Examples include better wearing composite stripper blades in steel mills and nylon sheaves used in construction cranes.
Plastics Offer Safety Advantages
From sheaves for lifting equipment to slipper blocks in steel mills to slide bars on pile driving equipment to car windows and aircraft hangar door rollers, plastics offer a greater degree of safety. Typically, about 1/7th the weight of steel, iron or bronze, installation is much easier with one person able to install components that used to take two people or even a crane. Yes, finding discarded plastic bottles along the road is irritating – but those of us with some years behind us remember all the broken glass from beer and soda bottles along the road that used to take out our tires. Glass processes at ~2800F in an extremely long process – that’s over 5 times the temperature, and vastly more energy, required than to make plastic bottles
Plastics Actually SAVE Energy and Water Resources
Plastics save water and energy, too. Corroding metal pipes result in the loss of ~17% of all water pumped in the United States and more than $50 billion a year in maintenance and replacement costs. Plastic piping can last more than a century and corrosion resistant plastics extended the life of pumper truck tank applications in agriculture and fire-fighting equipment. Plastic insulation saves 40 times the energy required to make it while offering excellent shipping/fuel cost savings.
Plastics Benefit Conservation
Plastics are important to virtually every human activity today, including environmental conservation. Waste management and recycling is a major focus of the plastics industry as a means to continue society’s progress.
The same spirit of innovation that created environmentally responsible replacements for ivory and tortoise shell is developing new materials, designs, and recycling methods that conserve resources and reclaim the value of used or discarded plastic.
Recycling innovations include optical sorting, light-reflection technology to identify a variety of difficult-to-sort recyclable materials. Advanced recycling is an environmentally safe process that returns plastic to its basic chemical building blocks for reuse.
And it might sound like science fiction, but enzymatic recycling — bacterial compounds that “eat” plastic waste and produce new plastic — are in the works and could become a reality.
Let’s Focus on What Works-
Today, innovation in life-cycle technology is the best key for the world to continue to reap the benefits of composite materials while minimizing solid waste. Companies are now transforming windshield safety glass into new carpets and removing contaminants from recycled material to produce near-virgin-quality resins. In one case, a parking lot was paved with the equivalent of 71,000 recycled plastic bags.
Did you know plastic bags require 70% less energy and 96% less water to manufacture than paper bags? And you can’t pave a parking lot with paper bags.
Constant innovation is why we should never ban plastic materials or products that conserve resources and protect the environment — important to remember on Earth Day and every day!
There are bills in Congress offering practical, bipartisan solutions. The RECOVER Act would improve collection and sorting of recyclable materials. The RECYCLE Act would fund public awareness of recycling options. The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act would develop new recycling technologies.
When activists seek to ban or severely restrict the usage of plastic, it’s important to consider what materials would serve as replacements. More often than not, plastic actually replaced these other materials decades ago due, in part, to being more environmentally friendly. Let’s embrace innovation and build upon what works!
Tom Connelly is a self proclaimed “Street Engineer” with over 40 years in the plastics industry.
Two of the most widely used engineering thermoplastics are nylon (polyamide, “PA”) and acetal (polyoxymethylene, “POM”). The choice between the two can be difficult since their basic physical properties are similar. (FUN FACT –“Nylon” was once DuPont’s trade name for PA, but they didn’t protect it and it became the generic description!)
For our purpose here, we are discussing these materials in general terms without differentiation of extruded vs cast in nylon and homopolymer vs copolymer in acetal.
Acetal shapes tend to be more expensive than nylon by about 10%. The difference gets larger as size increases due to the economy of casting nylon in large shapes.
New technology allows acetal to be available in plate up to 10” thick and rod to 24” diameter as well as tubes up to 20” OD. Nylon is available in both small and massive shapes (78” diameter sheaves and 14 ft long slide bars have been cast in nylon). Additionally, nylon is readily available in custom profile extrusions (edge guards, clip-on wear strips) where acetal generally is not.
Nylon has a wide availability of modified versions to improve wear resistance, heat stability, impact resistance and flame retardancy. Acetal has some of these variations but less than the nylon family.
Both materials machine well, but nylon is known to generate chip wrap requiring spindle clearing. Both materials can be finished to excellent surface finishes
Nylon picks up ~2.5% moisture atmospherically, and up to 7% at saturation. This factor can inhibit dimensional stability and wet wear resistance. Acetal’s water absorption is 0.2% and 0.9%, respectively, which allows for closer tolerances in wet environments.
As a general rule is that nylon will outwear acetal by ~4:1 in dry applications and acetal will outwear nylon by the same ~4:1 ratio in a wet environment.
In most applications, many materials will work and the selection of the most appropriate candidate material can rest other considerations. WS HAMPSHIRE has the expertise to ask the right questions and make effective recommendations to assist you in finding the right material at the right price for your application!
Tom Connelly is a self proclaimed “Street Engineer” with over 40 years in the plastics industry.
Here at WS Hampshire, customization and problem solving are a way of life. We do a little of everything with applications including wear parts in steel mills, insulation for the lighting industry, sheaves and wear pads in construction equipment and fire trucks, thermal insulation, structural fiberglass, and custom composite components for almost any aspect of industry. Our global supply chain means that we have access to a wide variety of composite materials and can determine the best raw material and grade for your specific application.
Our team fully understands that no two applications or customers are the same and is happy to help with a custom order for a unique project, or to build a large scale stocking program to keep your operation running.
Whatever your needs, know that you are in the right place!
Contact us and let us know what you are working on today.
A GUIDE TO CHOOSING NON-METALLIC MATERIALS
When machining a new component, there are a number of reasons a manufacturer may choose to use non-metallic materials rather than metallic ones. These materials are lightweight, cost-effective, corrosion-resistant, and they hold up well against harsh chemicals. They are also non-conductive, making them a popular choice in the electrical and thermal insulation industries.
WHAT ARE NON-METALLIC MATERIALS?
Non-metallic materials are any materials, both synthetic and natural, which do not contain metal. These materials are able to retain their unique chemical properties during the machining process. There are a wide variety of non-metallic materials, including:
As one of the more affordable and versatile non-metallics, plastics are a desirable choice for a wide range of projects. Typically, these materials are composed of plasticizers, pigments, and fillers joined together by a natural or synthetic binding agent.
Depending on the project specifications, a manufacturer may choose between two types of plastic: thermoset and thermoplastic. Once they have been heated and shaped, thermoset binders cannot be reshaped. Thermoplastic, on the other hand, retains its plasticity, allowing manufacturers to reshape it as many times as needed.
NON-METALLIC VS. METALLIC: KEY DIFFERENCES
There are several key differences between metallic and non-metallic.
While metallic materials are highly conductive, non-metallic materials do not conduct heat or electricity well, making them good insulators in many electrical applications.
For projects where budget is a concern, non-metallics offer the advantage of being significantly more affordable in both the short term and long term. Plastics are more affordable than metal materials and can be produced more rapidly, making the manufacturing process quicker and more cost-effective. Non-metallic materials are more lightweight and have lower frictional properties than metallic materials, meaning they require less maintenance over time.
CHEMICAL AND CORROSION RESISTANCE
While metals often require extra coatings to protect them from corrosion in harsh environments, many non-metallics can withstand exposure to harsh chemicals and extreme heat. This is particularly advantageous within the chemical processing industry.
Non-metallic materials have the benefit of not requiring post-treatment finishes as metallic materials do. Plastics and other non-metallic materials are naturally insulating and highly corrosion resistant. In order to achieve similar levels of insulation, metallic materials must go through finishing treatments that add time and expense to the machining process. The post-treatment is shortened even further as plastics are often colored before being machined, which eliminates the need for painting.
APPLICATIONS FOR NON-METALLIC MATERIALS
W.S. Hampshire offers a variety of non-metallic products, including sealing solutions, thermal insulation, and Ryertex components, for use in a range of applications.
Our non-metallic sealing solutions include seals, gaskets, and valve seats made from a variety of standard and customized materials such as PTFE, PEEK, PBI, and more. Our sealing solutions come in a range of sizes and can withstand extreme environmental conditions, making them suitable for use in scientific equipment, water and oil transport systems, and more.
Our non-metallic thermal insulation products are designed to reduce thermal conduction and protect against thermal radiation while enhancing energy efficiency and maintaining temperatures. Our thermal insulation products come in a range of materials, such as calcium silicate, mica, glastherm, and more for a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, and more.
Ryertex is a line of thermoset laminate composites commonly used as an alternative to metal for applications exposed to high speeds, load, and extreme temperatures. Used in a variety of industries, including military and aerospace, the Ryertex line includes all NEMA grades with substrates such as linen, paper, cotton, and more. At W.S. Hampshire, we offer a variety of Ryertex fabricated parts, including bushings, bearings, and other wear parts.
CONTACT W.S. HAMPSHIRE: WE HAVE NON-METALLICS FOR YOUR NEXT PROJECT
At W.S. Hampshire, Inc., we supply our valued customers with custom fabrication services and a wide range of non-metallic materials, including thermosets, thermoplastics, fiberglass-reinforced plastics, phenolic plastics, and LED films. The corrosion-resistance, affordability, and nonconductive properties make them the ideal solution for a wide range of applications.
If you require assistance choosing the best material for your project, our experts are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.
WHAT IS FIBER-REINFORCED POLYMER?
Fiber-reinforced polymer is a popular composite material used in a variety of industries, including aerospace, construction, automotive, defense, and more. A polymer matrix, such as epoxy or vinyl ester, is blended with materials designed to strengthen the polymer, including basalt, carbon, or glass. Each FRP has its advantages and unique applications.
COMPONENTS OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS
Fiber-reinforced polymer is made of two components: the fibers and the matrices. The strengths of the composite are largely determined by the fiber—and the composite is typically named after the fiber, as well.
- Fibers: Glass, carbon, and aramid are commonly used, depending on the purpose of the finished FRP. More rarely, you’ll find composites made with wood, paper, or basalt fibers.
- Matrices: Epoxy and vinyl ester are the most common. Epoxy is more expensive, but it is preferred for its strength and resistance to chemicals.
TYPES OF FIBER-REINFORCED POLYMER
There are several types of composites, but these are three of the most common:
- Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP): This is heavier than the composites made with carbon or aramid, but it’s especially impact-resistant and, in some cases, can be compared to steel.
- Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP): Using carbon fiber results in a composite that is water- and chemical-resistant and holds up against fatigue.
- Aramid Fiber Reinforced Polymer (AFRP): Though sensitive to temperature and moisture, it has a high fracture energy, making it ideal for ballistic armor. Kevlar is one of the most well-known brands of AFRP.
THREE REASON WHY FRP’s ARE GREAT FOR YOUR PROJECT
Fiber-reinforced polymer composites have a wide range of applications. You’ll find them as reinforcements within concrete structures, underwater piping, stairways, and anywhere you need a material that’s resistant to stress, corrosion, and impact. Aside from their inherent strength and electrical neutrality, there are other reasons why FRPs may be the ideal choice for your next project:
- Time Saving: This includes saving time in production and installation. Precast concrete, for example, takes more than two weeks longer to produce and typically five days longer to install than a fiber-reinforced polymer. Not only do you get your project up and running more quickly with FRPs, you save the costs that would be associated with a longer production/installation period.
- Weight: FRPs are lightweight compared to materials of similar strength and durability. That makes it less labor-intensive and easier to install while reducing the stress on the entire structure.
- Maintenance: Because FRPs are strong, durable, and resistant to corrosion, they last longer and don’t require a lot of maintenance. Even though FRPs may be more expensive to produce and install upfront, you’re able to multiply your cost savings over time, especially when considering major projects like bridges and platforms.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT OUR FIBER REINFORCED POLYMERS?
W.S. Hampshire offers full-line custom plastic fabrication and supply, and we’re happy to provide a variety of FRPs for your next project.
- Extren™: Low-maintenance and cost-effective, it’s available in more than 100 shapes, including tubes, beams, rounds, squares, and rectangles, to suit your unique purposes.
- GPO: Available in three grades, this flame-resistant electrical insulator is a thermoset polyester sheet reinforced with fiberglass and filler.
- Grating: We offer Duradek® pultruded grating and Duragrid® molded grating; they are excellent alternatives to steel or aluminum when you need a strong, low-maintenance material in a corrosive environment.
- Wesliner: Commonly used in laboratory fume hood liners, Wesliner has a low flame spread and is highly resistant to physical, thermal, and chemical forces.
W.S. Hampshire offers high-quality, cost-effective custom solutions for industries like oil and gas, construction, heavy industry, military, food equipment, transportation, and more. Contact us to learn more about fiber-reinforced polymers and other plastic solutions.