New technological advances have enabled the development of materials that are more efficient and specialized than ever before. High-performance plastics have been developed with progress and innovation in mind, providing extremely interesting advantages. For example, polymer resins offer almost unlimited possibilities, especially when they contain additives that either improve their basic properties or lend them new ones.
Research and development has led to the creation of increasingly efficient plastics, giving these little-known materials an edge over traditional ones. Although some may be reluctant to replace metal parts or components with plastic equivalents, this substitution offers a significant competitive advantage. The change of material or the search for new alternatives is mainly motivated by three reasons, of which polymer materials come out on top.
1. Reduce costs:
Cost reduction is often the main motivation behind the search for an alternative or a substitute material when designing parts and components. For example, high-performance plastics are often more affordable than stainless steel. As a result, they generate savings by:
- reducing maintenance costs. Using the right plastic correctly improves the service life of mechanical parts and components, thus reducing the frequency of maintenance.
- protecting surfaces, conveyors, chutes or any other part of the production line exposed to friction force or other “stressors” that generate wear. High-performance plastic linings such as those in the UHMW family are an excellent solution to reduce friction while protecting production equipment, as they absorb shocks, wear, and stress generated by the transit of materials. A plastic part can easily be replaced once it is too worn out, leaving the surface on which it is affixed intact.
2. Reduce the weight of parts and components
Reducing the weight of system or machine components is also a key motive behind the search for alternative materials, as it leads to concrete energy savings.
A well-functioning system could easily operate at optimal capacity by replacing stainless steel pistons with plastic ones made of acetal, significantly decreasing their weight. The acetal pistons will have the exact same function as metal ones, but will be nearly 6 times lighter. Weight reduction also has an impact on wear, as less weight also results in less stress on parts and system support structures.
“ Performance plastics allow systems to be lighter and faster while consuming less energy.”
Alex Frenette Tremblay -Eng.
3. Improve performance
Improving the performance of one or more system components can lead to new alternatives to traditional materials with lower friction coefficients and superior resistance to mechanical stress and corrosive agents. For example, self-lubricating parts improve the speed at which bulk materials transit while preventing agglomeration.
The following is an example of system optimization made possible thanks to high-performance plastics:
In the case of bulk materials falling onto a conveyor, several crucial points can be optimized by installing linings and replacing metal parts with high-performance plastic equivalents. Less friction leads to less energy loss and less force required to operate the system.
- Inside the chute, a TIVAR 88-2 lining can be installed to reduce friction, absorb shocks and improve flow. The lining protects the surface of the chute while preventing congestion or agglomeration, leading to better performance.
- On the conveyor, linings can be installed to reduce friction and absorb the impact generated by falling bulk materials.
- On the sides of the conveyor, guides that facilitate sliding while reducing friction can be installed.