So…You have a project. You’ve decided that you’re going to use “plastic” for it. Ok, which kind?

Sometimes it’s obvious. Plastic “do-it-yourselfer” applications that involve piping probably involve PVC since it’s so readily available and inexpensive compared to the alternatives. Same goes for acrylic or polycarbonate – the two primary clear (glazing) plastics. But sometimes there are more choices especially as the application becomes more vague. Common plastic applications taken on by amateurs include wear strips, bumpers, sheaves, pulleys, wheels, shock absorbers, ramps, bushings and everything else you can think of. With the array of industrial plastics available these days – how do you select the right plastic?

Well, the easiest way is just to ask. A reputable distributor will be able to take your information and make a recommendation; however, the more information you bring to the representative – the more he or she can help you. Many of the questions you ask should be the same as any of our industrial customers would ask. And we can help you out right here!

Questions you should know the answer to before approaching the plastic distributor:

What is the project?

What is the operating environment? (temperature, any chemical or weather exposure – exposure to UV light is of special concern)

What load or pressure does it bear?

What properties are important in your application? (stiffness, ease of machining, low friction, high friction, etc)

What is your budget?

Based on that information we can help you select a material that will suit your project’s needs.

For more information contact Redwood Plastics.

 

 

 

 

“I told you to plow the driveway not destroy it!”

Not something you want to hear. In many parts of North America the brutal winters means a brisk business for snow plow and snow blowers both equipment and entrepreneurs looking to cash in clearing some of the fluffy white stuff. Often the equipment comes with a metal plow blade on the front. This can damage or mark the pavement you’re clearing and eventually the metal will wear. An increasingly popular solution is taking a UHMW polyethylene strip and attaching it to the metal plow. The UHMW is very strong and wear-resistant but will not damage the pavement. Snow slides off it easily and the material has a low coefficient of friction. Known as a “cryogenic plastic” UHMW’s properties actually increase in the cold, meaning the colder it is outside, the better the UHMW will perform. Reprocessed-black UHMW is most commonly used but virgin-white will do fine.

What you do is measure a the length and width you need, a long thin rectangular block will work just fine. You don’t want to go too thin with the material or else it will wear quickly and not do well on pullbacks. 1.5″ thick seems to be an accepted standard with 72″ length being the most common we could find. Seeing as UHMW comes in 10′ long sheets, any size up to 120″ is possible. One important note is to do the drilling and installing on site. UHMW will expand and contract due to temperature and while it might be easier to get your distributor to drills the holes you risk the very real possibility that the holes won’t match up to your metal part when you do the install – you have been warned!

In summary, UHMW plow and blower blades are an excellent do-it-yourself application if you have a snow plow or blower. So take a bite out of the snow this winter – but not your pavement!

SAMSUNG

 

 

 

When it comes to multi-wall polycarbonate, demand outstrips supply. Meaning demand for sheet sizes and profiles outside of the 4′ x 10′ x 6mm (1/4″ nominal) standard. Multi-wall polycarbonate is an excellent plastic for several home projects. The standard sheets are relatively cheap in comparison to other industrial plastics. Unlike standard polycarbonate, multi-wall comes UV-stabilized for outdoor use and can be easily fabricated using household tools. It does not require special hardware – any screw with a washer affixes it just fine.

The problem we see as a plastic distributor is demand for non-standard thicknesses and sizes, most commonly 16mm or 8mm thick material. What you need to realize is those profiles are much rarer and the increase in cost will not be proportional to the increase in sheet thickness. What you also might not realize is the tradeoff you make in properties, not simply in cost.

For example, while there is slight variance among manufacturers, for the most part the properties are very similar. Take these two as an example:

6mm thick twin-wall polycarbonate:

R-value 1.6
Light transmission: 85%

10mm thick twin-wall polycarbonate:

R-value 1.9
Light transmission: 75%*

*In the often requested 16mm multi-wall, light transmission drops to around 64%

Note that by adding 40% to the thickness of the material you gain only 15% R-value (thermal insulation) yet you lose 10% light transmission. In the case of a greenhouse application that 10% can have an effect on plant growth.

The point of all this is to have a clear picture of the cost and consequences of going with thicker multi-wall polycarbonate. It is still an excellent product, but it comes down to a tradeoff you need to be aware of – increased thermal insulation in exchange for increased price and less light transmission.

Any questions? Contact us.

PC_Roof

 

 

 

 

 

As summer comes to a close so does an experiment we ran at our Vancouver branch. While we try to minimize our offcuts, so as to reduce the amount of wasted material we create, we are still left with little bits here and there. Throughout the years our Marketing department, who handle our online inquiries, has noticed a number of customers asking about small pieces – which are apparently very difficult to find. We had the idea of taking stock of some offcuts and seeing if anyone would be interested in some small bits…Turns out they were!

Some projects we had come across our desks:

-PTFE base for a home telescope

-Phenolic saw guides

-“Wheel-less” dynamic surface for a sliding wardrobe door

-Acrylic table surfaces (quite a few of these)

-Polycarbonate for boat hatches

What did we learn? A lot. It was a great learning experience for ourselves and the customers. On the positive side we learned how creative the public can be with industrial plastics, particularly with the telescope and wardrobe that used UHMW strips as an ultra-low friction sliding surface. Also, it was interesting on how large of size “offcuts” were requested of us – often approaching 3/4 of a full sheet. Certainly there was no shortage of desire for industrial plastics and for so many different applications. It was refreshing to work on something new.

Unfortunately, those larger offcuts seemed to come in at prices that disappointed some customers, despite special pricing. Industrial plastics are an excellent material but they are not cheap like everyday consumer plastics. The larger offcut sizes in particular meant some disappointed customers could only be quoted on full sheet for their application at the regular price.

However, overall it was an interesting experiment and one we’ll continue to run as we gather more information on how to increase the footprint of industrial plastics.

If you are a  “Do It Yourselfer” working with industrial plastics at some point you’re going to need to get some plastics – probably early on in the project wouldn’t you say? And unless you have a source you know personally you’re going to have to request a quote from a plastics distributor. Redwood Plastics runs this “diy” blog for public interest but we know from our everyday experience with our customers in the public what information is lacking when they make a request for quote (RFQ). We’ll teach you some common pitfalls that slow down the quote process, then help you learn to request a quote with a couple of examples thrown in. Please note these apply to industrial distribution in general – not just plastics, and not just Redwood Plastics!

One question before we start – why quote?

Many customers consider industrial distributors to be like big box stores: all the wares on the website are presumably stocked in every conceivable profile. Reality is that plastics take up a lot of space! And inventory space is very expensive. Truth is, most distributors keep a few profiles of their most popular material in stock and the rest is brought in to-order. By knowing the quantity we can factor in necessary freight costs to bring the material in and ensure you get quantity discounts (if they exist).

Here is a fictitious example of a contact form request we often receive:

*****

First name: Jim

Location: [Not Provided]

Phone number: [Not Provided]

Quote text: Price on acrylic sheet please.

******

Let’s go over the problems with this common RFQ:

1.) Most distributors have multiple locations, each branch supplies a geographic area. By not providing your location, the company rep does not know where your inquiry belongs. Prices often differ by location, even on the same product, due to freight and transport costs.

2.) Not providing a phone number may slow down the process. One phone call can permit the rep to get all the information they need in a short call and be much quicker than email.

3.) “Acrylic sheet” is not enough information to quote. We need to know the size of sheet, the thickness of sheet, the quantity of sheet(s), and the grade of acrylic. Most plastics come in many grades and can have various additives: this needs to be confirmed to quote accurately.

Here is an example of a good RFQ:

*****

First name: Jim

Location: Lincoln, NB

Phone number: 555-555-5555

Quote text: Could I have your price on qty (2) 4′ x 8′ x 1/4″ clear, general purpose acrylic sheets?

*****

Note in the above request no information is missing. We know which of our locations to connect you to, we know exactly how much plastic you need and what grade, dimensions and thickness you need. If you don’t know the grade or profile that’s OK, but providing the distributor with as much information as you can will make for a simpler, faster, process.

One note to leave you with. Most engineering plastic is manufactured in the United States, this means whether you’re in Canada, the U.S. or worldwide – if you’re purchasing from a North American plastics distributor you should request your quote in imperial, as materials produced in metric are often unavailable.

We hope you have found this little guide informative and useful!

All the best to you and your projects.

 

 

Recently, Redwood Plastics started a pilot project marketing offcuts on local sales directories. This has greatly increased our inquiry traffic from the “diy” community and has been an eye-opener as far as what the general public would like to do with plastic in home applications. The ingenuity of the public is still fascinating and continues to surprise us.

One issue our customers are having is a lack of knowledge about whether they should select polycarbonate or acrylic for a given application. Indeed, the two materials are very different – almost mirror images as far as properties, advantages and drawbacks go. To help we’ve created a simple comparison chart for you. Feel free to copy and save it on your computer for your own reference.

A “takeaway” point from this article we hope you will understand is that acrylic and polycarbonate have certain advantages and disadvantages. There is no “magic bullet” or material that is absolutely superior to the other. You will need to prioritize what is most important for your application and make a selection based on your own criteria. We hope it is helpful!

Acrylic vs. Polycarbonate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PVC Truck Tent

Posted: July 25, 2014 in PVC
Tags: , , , , ,

Yes – we write about PVC a lot here! The reason for that is that it’s just so accessible, so easy to use and work with as well as affordable. The combination of availability, flexibility and price means PVC applications for the “do-it-yourselfer” are easy to find.

Anyways…It’s summer, officially now. Camping is a favorite past-time of many people but if you have a larger group it can get pretty claustrophobic in those tents. We found this video on YouTube of a guy who made a truck tent for his pickup. He lists the price as $55.00 total…And $20.00 of that was for the mattress! Most of it is just PVC pipe and fittings. The only problem is that at the time of the video they had not tested it with rain yet.

Take a look…You’ll need to skip around to about halfway through the video to see the tent set up: