on December 13th, 2021

Plastic is not an easy topic to approach from any perspective. The petroleum-based material has become synonymous with the ills of the world.

At the same time new innovative ways are seeing the light to use plastics. It’s also a growing market with a massive stake in the economy.

We explored where plastic is heading, and what it means for engineers.

Why Engineering Plastics Matters

Knowing the difference between commodity plastic and engineering plastics gives an indication of why plastic plays such a big role in the world. Engineering plastics have different uses than that of say a plastic bag, and requires a thorough understanding to see why these plastics have such value attached to them.

Engineering plastics are a separate category of plastics, and the material is almost always used for high-performance functioning and application.

From its chemical to heat resistant properties and its uses in high-performance applications where its heat resistance, chemical resistance, impact, flame retardance or mechanical strength plays a role should always be considered. Engineering and tech can’t exist currently without these essential elements.

Engineering plastics are notably more effective than commodity plastics, which are often inexpensive and have weak mechanical properties.

Engineering plastics simply last longer, have to be replaced less.

High volume plastics often have single-use, and are usually the plastic that ends up as major pollutants.

Engineering plastics utilized in wiring
Photo by Opt Lasers on Unsplash

Some of the Common Engineering Thermoplastics

• ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene)

• LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymers)

• PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate)

• PEEK (Polyaryletheretherketone)

• PMMA (Polymethyl methacrylate)

• PA (Polyamide)

• PSU/P/PPSU (Polyarylsulfone)

• PC (Polycarbonate)

• PI (Polyimide)

•PVDF (Polyvinylidene fluoride)

•TPE-E (Thermoplastic polyesterelastomer)

•UHMWPE (Ultra-high-molecular-weightpolyethylene, sometimes shortened toUH)

Thermoplastics Will Grow a Lot

A market report Global Engineering Thermoplastics Market Report Insight Key Research Findings Competitive Landscape and Forecast 2020 - 2021 expect that thermoplastics, and specifically those used in engineering.

The report covers the following aspects of the plastic industry, with a focus on engineering plastic.

1. Give an analysis of how the market works and how these forecasts work in the various segments of the global market.

2. Give details to everything affecting growth within the market.

3. Analyzing the market in relation to trends, macroeconomic indicators and the like.

4. Give historical data and revenue forecasts.

5. Give country-specific analysis considering various market sizes and future prospects.

6. Profile key role players and how it relates back to a competitive market.

8. Track the developments of competitors, some ventures, new products, strategies and developments within the plastics industry.

The growth of the industry is however dependent on forms of sustainability.

Engineering Plastics Are Made to Be Recycled

What sets engineering plastics apart from commodity plastics is likely that different engineering plastics can be recycled together to get a new material lengthening its use within the engineering plastics environment.

Conventional plastics
Photo by Farhad Ibrahimzade on Unsplash

Because all engineering plastics are up to 99% recyclable, mixing these for different results or uses make them incredibly diverse.

The only big headache is when it comes to sorting this kind of waste – but there are effective ways to do it.

Plastic recycling involves the recuperation and reprocessing of the materials used.

In mechanical recycling during the melting process different types of plastic separates and seem to fall in certain layers and it does cause structural weakness and that limits its uses.

Commodity plastics in essence weaken during the recycling process.

All thermoplastics can on the other hand, in theory, be recycled mechanically with a low to zero decline in its efficiency. The durability of mixed plastics can be increased with addition of 10% virgin polycarbonate and other modifiers which lengthens its use.

The most commonly used plastics materials within Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment are acrylonitrile butadiene-styrene, polycarbonate and high impact polystyrene. Other plastics are also included like polypropylene, polyphenylene oxide and polyvinyl chloride. The electrical and electronics industry uses this plastic the most, generating 33% of engineering plastics waste – but this waste is excellent source for recycling engineering materials.

The paper Engineering Plastics: Market Analysis and Recycling Methods say that recycled plastics from WEEE can be used for high-end application, with low cost involved and at a reasonable price.

It’s important to point out that it is possible to melt blend different types of engineering plastics together to obtain effective results.

That longevity and global growth of technology as Industry 4.0 takes hold gives an idea of why the market is booming, and engineering plastics are more important than ever.

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