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What Is Acetal Plastic Used For In Industrial Applications?

If you use any engineered plastics for small parts or stiff components, acetal is a material that should be on your radar, if it’s not already in your regular rotation. But what exactly is acetal plastic used for?

image with acetal industrial applications text

Though this popular thermoplastic is similar to other options like UHMW and nylon, it is unique in its strength and dimensional stability. These qualities make it a powerful choice for companies in a wide array of industries, from automotive manufacturers to electronics companies. 

If you’ve ever wondered “what is acetal plastic used for?” Or if you’re ready to take advantage of the many benefits of this powerful plastic material, here’s a guide.  

What Is Acetal Plastic?

The technical name for acetal plastic is polyoxymethylene, or POM for short. It may also be known by the brands Acetron® or Delrin®. This thermoplastic is a semi-crystalline engineering material that offers a large continuous use temperature range. More specifically, it is able to hold onto its strong dimensional stability up to 180° Fahrenheit. In addition to this dimensional stability, this material is known for being stiff and strong, holding up against both impact and friction-related wear or damage. It’s also incredibly easy to machine, making it a popular and versatile material for those needing complex parts or shapes. 

There are two main types of acetal thermoplastic, a copolymer and homopolymer version. Homopolymers have just one monomer, while copolymers are made from two separate types of monomer. This change in the structure gives these two materials slightly different properties. Specifically, the copolymer version is less porous for increased performance in wet and high-temperature environments. However, the homopolymer version offers more stiffness and improved mechanical properties for more stable settings. Because of this, it’s important to first consider the environment and properties where your plastic materials may be used to select the best specific product to suit your needs. 

What Is Acetal Plastic Used For?

If you’re wondering “what is acetal plastic used for?” the answer can be quite varied. Ultimately, it really depends on what industry you’re looking at. Acetal can be useful in any field that requires strong, stiff materials that are dimensionally stable in a variety of different environments. Specifically, it is a popular choice in applications related to the industrial, electronics, and transportation industries. 

In manufacturing and industrial settings, acetal plastic is often used in the production of small components such as washers and spacers. Acetal is often first provided in raw forms like rods and tubes. And from there, it can easily be cut, routed, and machined into specific shapes needed to fit into existing machinery. Since it is so mechanically strong and resistant to wear, it holds up well in complex machinery and similar settings, limiting maintenance and repair needs for these facilities over time. 

In automotive and transportation settings, acetal plastic also provides a powerful option for small components that hold parts like dashboard panels, seating, and storage areas into place. It may even be used in visible parts like seat belt adjusters, HVAC knobs, and locks. Basically, any parts that require a specific shape that doesn’t change forms may utilize acetal. 

In the electronics field, acetal can be used in the production of components, connectors, and any other tiny parts that require stiffness and may come into contact with wires or other parts that emit energy from heat. Since acetal provides so much dimensional stability at various temperatures, it’s an ideal choice for parts that need to hold their shape even around wires and other power sources. 

What Are the Unique Benefits of Acetal Plastic?

Though acetal shares many similar qualities to other thermoplastics like nylon and UHMW, it does offer some specific benefits that make it stand out from these other plastic materials. Specifically, the material’s unique strength makes it a top choice for specific applications in many industries, including those listed above. While many thermoplastics offer impact strength or protection against friction, acetal provides both benefits in one powerful material. It is one of the stiffest and most impact resistant materials in the thermoplastic market. And at the same time, the material provides a low coefficient of friction and good wear properties. 

Acetal’s durability even extends beyond its physical and mechanical strength, since it also provides low moisture sensitivity, good electrical properties, and resistance to many chemicals. This makes it a versatile option that can be employed in a huge array of environments without losing any of its important physical properties. Specifically, copolymer acetal provides higher performance than other materials like nylon in high moisture environments. And the homopolymer version offers even better mechanical properties for certain applications, as long as some porosity won’t impede usage. 

In addition, acetal is incredibly easy to machine into specific forms and shapes. It can be cut, routed, and thermoformed to suit the exact needs of each application. This is ideal for the small parts and components that it is used to create in various industries. It can even be used in extrusion or injection molding machinery to create completely custom parts. This makes it a versatile option; companies can receive their acetal components ready for use without the need for additional cutting, routing, or forming services, though it is possible to customize components further if needed. 

If you’re looking for quality acetal plastics for any industrial, automotive, or electronic applications, Polymershapes has the quality materials to suit your needs. We provide acetal products from industry-leading manufacturers like Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials and their top brand Acetron®. We offer this material in various grades, sizes, and shapes, including sheet, rod, hexagonal rod, square rod, and tube. From there, we can customize products with custom cut and routing services to ensure the materials are ready for use in your particular applications. Visit our website to browse options and get in touch with our team today.