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What Are Non-Metallic Materials

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:

  • Rubber
  • Ceramics
  • Fiber
  • Plastics

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.

Post-Treatment Requirements

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.

Sealing Solutions

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.

Thermal Insulation

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?

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 FRPs 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.