Acetal is a common engineering plastic best known for its strength, rigidity, and ability to hold up against a variety of harsh conditions. You may also know this plastic by its technical name, polyoxymethylene, POM, or common brand names including Acetron® or Delrin®. A trusted acetal plastics supplier can walk you through the specific options and varieties available. But it helps to start with a basic understanding of the material’s properties and benefits.
If you’re looking for a strong, stiff plastic for any of your own applications, here’s a guide to the qualities that make acetal a powerful option, along with some thoughts on how it stacks up against other materials.
Acetal Sheets – Material Properties
Acetal sheets are among the strongest and stiffest materials available in the thermoplastics industry, thanks in large part to the density of polyoxymethylene. The material maintains its shape and rigidity all the way up to its melting point of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it offers such excellent dimensional stability, it is ideal in any application that requires precision engineering, since it won’t change properties or shape when exposed to pressure, friction, varying temperatures, moisture, or chemicals.
More specifically, the density of acetal allows it to hold up well against constant friction and exhibit good wear properties overall. The molecules don’t break down or separate when other objects hit or rub against the surface. This makes it incredibly durable and fit for a huge array of industrial and machinery applications.
In addition, acetal offers low moisture sensitivity and chemical resistance, thanks to its rigid, dense form. It does not break down easily, even when submerged in water, and it is resistant to a wide array of solvents, hydrocarbons, and neutral chemicals.
Acetal is also incredibly easy to machine. So your acetal plastics supplier may be able to cut and shape the material into extremely complex parts or used in applications where tight tolerances are required. The raw material can even be processed using injection molding or extrusion techniques for extra precision.
Your acetal plastics supplier may offer this material in a few different types. Its copolymer version is better suited for wet or high-temperature environments due to its dimensional stability in these conditions. Acetal’s homopolymer version displays slightly stronger mechanical properties, making it ideal for precision applications like thin-walled bushings. But it is a bit more porous than the copolymer version. So it doesn’t work as well in submerged environments.
Acetal Sheets – Benefits in Various Applications
The properties listed above make acetal sheets a very versatile option for a wide array of applications. Specifically, it is commonly utilized in industrial environments that require a lot of strength, toughness, moisture, and/or chemical resistance. Due to its easy machinability, it’s also popular in applications that require precision engineering and tight tolerances.
More specifically, acetal is often used in industrial components like gears, gaskets, and seals. These components must fit seamlessly with existing machinery and resist wear from other moving parts.
It is also a popular choice in the world of packaging and conveying, particularly in high-friction parts like wear strips. The high density of acetal allows it to retain its original structure even when products and machinery parts scrape against the surface.
Another common example of how acetal is used is in the watercraft industry. The material holds up well when submerged in water and doesn’t easily break down or corrode, even when struck or pushed against other hard surfaces. Acetal can work in both interior and exterior applications on various watercraft vessels.
Acetal Vs. Other Plastics
Of course, acetal isn’t the only plastic material that holds up well against friction, moisture, and chemicals. It is important to understand the difference between this option and other high-performance plastics when working with an acetal plastics supplier. There isn’t a single material that works better than others in every application. The trick is to understand the qualities, pros, and cons of each material that is commonly used in your industry. You may even choose acetal for some applications and opt for others when their unique qualities are more beneficial based on your needs. Here’s a look at how acetal stacks up against a few similar materials:
Polypropylene is one plastic material that is often compared to acetal. It tends to be more economical and is more moisture-resistant in many grades. However, acetal displays more strength and rigidity. So polypropylene is better suited for containers that hold various fluids, while acetal is commonly used in precision parts like fittings, especially those used in industrial settings.
Acetal’s copolymer version is able to stand up well against other plastics in terms of moisture absorption. Specifically, it outperforms nylon in submerged environments and high-moisture or humidity applications, like parts used in water vessels.
UHMW is another high-performance plastic with many similar properties. Both have high density and stand up well against friction. However, acetal offers even more precision machining capabilities, making it ideal for small parts, whereas UHMW is often employed in larger applications or basic sheets.
If you’re ready to explore the benefits of acetal or compare it to other plastic products, the professionals at Polymershapes can help. As an industry-leading acetal plastics supplier, we offer acetal from industry-leading manufacturers like Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials. We provide this material in various shapes, sizes, and grades to suit the specific needs of your applications. We also carry a huge array of other high-performance plastics. Our team is always happy to walk you through the options and make sure you select the best possible material for your organization’s goals. We can even customize materials to your exact specifications. Visit our website to find your local branch and reach out for a quote to get started.