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.

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