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:


One underrated plastic for use by “do-it-yourselfers” is HDPE (high-density-polyethylene) puckboard. Puckboard is an economy-grade plastic sheet that is excellent for a number of projects. Puckboard is durable and aptly named, as it is the material used in ice hockey rinks. It can take impact from everyday life such as body contact and its smooth surface means the material is easy to clean. You will often see it installed in farms providing a low-maintenance wall covering. You may also see it used as a covering to protect walls from dogs in various kennels. The two colors you will most commonly available are white and black.

The material is easily fabricated using household tools. When cutting, a saw with high RPMs works best, most commonly a jigsaw – at least that seems to be the anecdotal consensus online. Table saws also run at high RPMs and as long as you have proper support for the sheets, they will cut accurately. It is common when cutting plastics for the edge to melt a little due to friction so keeping some medium to heavy grit sandpaper on hand to smooth the edges and to deburr, is a good idea.


Livestock pen in Alberta

Affixation to a wall or substrate should be done mechanically – meaning use bolts or screws. Polyethylene does not “glue” or work well with adhesives, and a 4′ x 8′ x 1/8″ sheet, even that thin, is still 40 lbs. When you do drill your holes, oversize them by 1/8″ to account for thermal expansion. Another thing to keep in mind is that white puckboard is not always UV-stable. Any reputable distributor you contact can tell you if theirs is or not. If not UV-protected, it will degrade in outdoor applications but may provide a short-term fix for a few years as long as occasional replacement is not an issue in the application.

Finally, let’s face it – when you’re working on a home project budget is a concern and industrial plastics can be pricey. But it is common to find full 4′ x 8′ puckboard sheets for less than $100.00 each even in remote areas. Distributors often keep it stocked due to its popularity, so the long lead times associated with other industrial plastics, is usually not a concern.

For more information contact Redwood Plastics.






FRP_TextureFRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) wall panels have a distinguished history of use in restaurants, convenience stores, public pools, schools, anywhere low-cost and easy-to-maintain wall protection is needed. The most popular of these panels is probably the white, embossed kind. It has a “pebbly” texture that makes it difficult for grime to stick on and makes the panels easy to clean.

While commonly encountered in businesses, these wall panels have many potential applications for the “diy” home renovator. For example, kids with crayons are a nightmare for many parents as the walls present a canvass ready for art – at least in the child’s mind! Do you have a dedicated playroom? FRP wall panels installed at floor level provide a surface so easy to clean you may encourage your kids to write on the walls! Well, maybe that’s a stretch but the investment in the wall panels will give you some peace of mind, make cleaning easy, and might even lower your blood pressure a bit.

Other potential uses in the home include: bathrooms, workshops, en suite kitchens, basements, carports and likely more. Think of the panels as a “simple armor” protecting your walls in high-risk areas from avoidable damage or disfigurement. The panels are easy to install via a special adhesive or nylon rivets to any flat surface. They are water-proof and impervious to cleaning chemicals. The embossed panels are commonly available in either 4′ x 8′ or 4′ x 10′ sheets both with a thickness of .090″.

For more information click here.

Acrylic is a fussy plastic, it can be difficult to work with and needs both skilled and patient hands. But the reason for its popularity is the potential of the amazing projects you can complete using the plastic. Case-in-point is this CNC engraved plaque – a 1912 Indian 8-valve board track racer motorcycle:







This piece’s artist is Dave Langkamp, a retired designer at John Deere. John has significant knowledge of 3D modeling, 3D printing and digital art applications. In this application, the acrylic is 6″ x 10″ x 1/4″ thick. The engraving was done by CNC using Dave’s own file. What makes this piece so unique is the level of fine detail (note the individual links on the drive chain). This is a great example of craftsmanship meeting the right material.

Dave has several other projects on the go at his blog, “The Tinker’s Workshop” including a 3D printed electric car and velomobile. You can check the blog out here.