Material selection and engineering solutions

High performance and engineering plastics are used in every sector of industry. Only with the right material can a design achieve its desired functionality, safety, and service life, thus, the plastic material selection process is critical to successful part design. It is primarily the application conditions that determine the right choice of material. However, in addition to the application conditions, the search for a suitable plastic should also take a number of other considerations into account.

comparison and selection of plastics

In attempting to determine a suitable material for a particular application, it is important to compare the plastic properties, material characteristics, and the requirement profile in detail. Ensinger supports the material selection process with an advisor tool or plastic selection guide, by providing all the data available on our stock shapes in an organised way. The plastics material selector will help you find the right polymer to suit your requirements. The material selector will show you the full range of plastics available, or the filter options on the left can be used to narrow the choice down to plastics consistent with the selected attributes. Please note, the material selector should only be used as a guide and should not replace practical testing.

With the plastic material selector, it is possible to limit the choice of suitable materials to a manageable number. Our comparison tool allows users to compare the details and properties of up to four different plastic materials at a time on a single page. To activate the tool, click on the comparison button. You will find this feature in the product overview (material selector) or on each product page.

Selection of properties

The term chemical resistance is generally used to describe the resistance of a material to the effects of chemicals. 

Material selection criteria and properties can be complex. The following section explains the main product characteristics and test methods, as well as to providing a compact outline of our extensive collection of plastics related knowledge. in addition to theoretical facts and information on requirements, it also recommends available materials. 

  • Most engineering thermoplastics are inherently electrically insulating.  However, when an application does have electrical requirements, the key issue is often whether the material exhibits electrically dissipative or conductive characteristics.

    → Electrically active plastics
    → Electrically insulating material

    For example, when producing electronic components, dissipating or conductive materials are often chosen to avoid static charges that could harm electrical circuits. This also applies to ATEX applications (ATmosphere EXplosive), where the objective is to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic explosion due to electrostatic discharge.

    → ATEX materials

  • To assess the suitability of a material in terms of its exposure to mechanical stress levels, it is desirable to  obtain as much detailed information about what the suspected levels of stress will be. In most cases, it is very helpful to obtain a print of the component with information relating to the mechanical stress.

    → Mechanical properties 

  • Thermal stress is another key criteria restricting the selection of material. Therefore, the temperatures transferred to the materials as a result of the application conditions must be taken into account. In addition to the possibility of heat being transferred from the outside, system related heat created by factors such as friction must also be taken into consideration. Characteristics closely related to changes in temperature are:

    → Negative service temperature
    → Dimensional stability

  • If a component is likely to come into contact with chemicals, the material's resistance to the substances in question should also be considered in the light of the application conditions. Critical factors include: contact temperature, contact time and concentration. Not only should the chemical substances to be encountered in the application be considered, but also those which will be used during part manufacture and processing (such as machining lubricants etc.).

    → Chemical resistant plastics

  • Tribilogical considerations are those made necessary in applications that will expose the part to wear caused by high loads, friction, or sliding actions.  In these cases,  good sliding properties and abrasion characteristics are required.

    → Plastics for sliding, friction and wear

  • If components are used for instance for outdoor applications, in radiology or in applications involving exposure to high energy radiation such as power stations, the materials used require suitable radiation resistance. Decisive to the material selection are the exposure dosage and the relevant application conditions.

    → Radiation resistant plastics
    → UV resistant plastics

Fields of applications / Sectors of industries

Sometimes the industry in which the part is to be used places limits on the material selection process.  This could be due to government agency approvals, or customer specific specifications that indicate only certain types of materials, meeting certain specific criteria can be used.

Further processing

How the material is processed plays a decisive role in choosing the material. Therefore the material selector offers a selection of the form in which the plastic can be aquired, as semi-finished rod, plate or tube, compound, filament or composite. To complement our products, we offer a comprehensive range of processing methods as well as customised profiles and tubes to meet your individual requirements for your finished part.

Machining is the predominant method used for further processing of plastic semi finished products. In order to produce high quality, durable, precisely dimensioned and flawless components, as much attention must be paid to the tools and processing parameters as to the characteristics of the specific materials, e. g. the mechanical properties.

→ More about machining

In many cases, thermoplastics can be very successfully joined by means of welding and bonding (or to other materials), which are taken into account on following pages:

→ Easy to bond plastics
→ Weldable plastics 

Technical advice

To help with the material selection process, our application engineering advisors are also happy to help. Not only will you get support on selecting the right material, but also on further processing, regulations and requirements. Our broad application specific expertise enables us to assist you from the very first product idea through the selection of materials and designs, to the finished component. For all this and any additional inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact our advisory team for free expert advice at any time, via our contact form or by telephone on +49 7032 819-101.