Have you ever heard of “HMW PE 500“? If you have we’d be surprised. Even though the material has been around for years, we at Redwood Plastics, the patron of this blog, have only recently started advertising it. It’s cutting board material. Professional-quality cutting board material, not something for your ordinary kitchen, but something to use in a premium DIY kitchen or outdoor cooking area that you want to show off. UHMW polyethylene gets a lot of love in cutting board applications but as resilient as it is to cutting and wear there’s one problem: it dulls knives. HMW PE 500 is a grade of HDPE plastic which will not dull the blades. In addition, it is FDA and EC compliant. In fact, in addition to being food-safe it actually comes in a variety that is anti-microbial!

It was designed for this purpose.

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of this stuff before, well, times have changed in what people expect out of their kitchens. People with the means to do so are building bigger and better kitchen areas indoors and out and expectations are increasing. HMW PE 500 would have previously been kept to the realm of the restaurant and professional chefs only – but nowadays has a role to play in the modern custom kitchen. If you’re just looking for a small cutting board this isn’t your thing: it will be more expensive and it comes in 48″ x 96″ sheets! To utilize this plastic you really do need to have a large cooking area and have space in the budget for this sheet which can be upwards of $250.00 USD, depending on quantity, once freight costs are factored in. But for a DIY application for the cook who wants the optimum material, HMW PE 500 is for you.

If you’re interested in the product please contact Redwood Plastics. 

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First things first, we here at Redwood Plastics (the administrators of the Plastichowto blog) are happy to answer your application related questions. That said, we might be able to save some time with your future DIY projects by helping you narrow down what plastics you might need for your application. If you’re still hesitant or have additional questions just ask us. Without further adieu, a list of plastics and where they might fit in to various applications:

UHMW polyethylene:

An incredibly versatile plastic, UHMWPE is the “Swiss army knife” of plastics. It’s good at a lot of things, great at a few things and substandard for a few applications. If you need an impact-zone UHMW works as it’s virtually unbreakable and it also works as synthetic ice (though unlike HDPE, it will dull skate blades). It functions well as light-load bushings (under 500 PSI) but cannot hold tight tolerances (+-) 0.05″ is about the best you’re reasonably going to get. We’ve seen UHMW used as sheaths for bladed objects and cutting boards as well. UHMW has benefits of being inexpensive compared to other industrial grade plastics and is also widely stocked.

Nylon:

Nylon’s main application in DIY applications is as sheaves and bushings. Nylon machines well and can handle 4000PSI in operation, which is why it works so well under load. You do need to be aware if your application is exposed to the sun (and therefore need UV-stabilizer) and if your application is marine. For “wet” applications acetal is recommended as a substitute because nylon will swell. In addition, nylon gets brittle below -10 degrees C.

Acetal:

An excellent all-around plastic, acetal can be substituted for nylon in most applications as it handles a similar load for applications like bushings and sheaves. In addition, acetal is the best engineering plastic to machine. It holds tight tolerances and is excellent for small, complex parts. A popular DIY application for acetal is replacing metal parts in paintball guns.

Tuffkast:

A premium nylon-like material, Tuffkast was designed to overcome the drawbacks of nylon. Tuffkast is better in the cold and absorbs much less moisture than nylon. It can be substituted in most applications the only potential issue is that it is softer than nylon, which may mean reduced wear properties in some applications. Otherwise, it is extremely versatile and would delight most DIY’ers if they only knew it better.

Acrylic/Polycarbonate:

Acrylic and polycarbonate are used where you need a clear plastic. Acrylic is not as strong as polycarbonate but it has better scratch resistance. Both plastics are much stronger than glass. In addition, acrylic resin is naturally UV-stabilized where only special grades for polycarbonate are. Safety glass, windows, canopies and tabletops are DIY applications for these plastics.

Phenolic/Industrial Laminates:

Industrial laminates are a very large family of plastics where different resin systems, substrates, and additives mean there isn’t a “one size fits all” phenolic. For the DIY community phenolics are fairly expensive and difficult to work with as you require dust exhausting systems and masks. Some are glass-filled which means special tooling to work with them. Phenolics can handle a large amount of load, often in excess of 20,000PSI and are primarily used in mechanical applications by the DIY community. So anywhere the plastic’s job is to provide strength, rigidity and form. It’s hard to narrow down specific applications for this – we’ve seen almost everything! But what comes to mind is, for example, replacing the metal collars on a sailboat (which hold the sail masts firm and steady) with phenolic. Remember, unlike metal, phenolics won’t corrode due to salt and water.

There are several other plastics we could talk about but their use by the DIY community would be limited. If you’re interested in discussing your application feel free to contact us.

Rover1

Redco HDPE “Play” Board

Posted: February 21, 2017 in HDPE
Tags: , , , ,

A versatile product to highlight for the DIY community. Most of you will know about HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic which is used in countless applications including many products people use in their daily lives. Redco “Play”(ground) board is a specific type of HDPE which adds several benefits over the natural variety of HDPE.

Firstly, the product is available in several colors which itself differentiates it from other commonly available sheet/rod/tube plastics which can be tough to find in colors other than white or black:

play

 

 

In addition, Redco Play offers other benefits over HDPE natural sheet such as:

  • UV-stability (for outdoor applications)
  • Orange peel surface (desirable for some applications where a smooth surface isn’t beneficial)
  • Color is impregnated into the sheet and won’t degrade quickly
  • Impact resistant
  • Wear resistant
  • Easy to cut, drill and fabricate

The product is not stocked at our branches but can usually be brought in within 1-2 weeks. Price before freight costs, taxes, etc is about $12-$15 USD a square foot depending on thickness of sheet. If you have interest in this product for your application and would like to discuss please contact Redwood Plastics.

Tabletop made from green Redco Play.

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We’re always scouring YouTube for DIY plastic applications and we found an interesting one today. The video is by a DIY mechanic and his problem is that stock engine mounts for his car are really expensive (about $160.00/ for a pair) whereas he can make at home four of them for just $25.00. What we like about this video is that 1.) he does his homework and researched his materials. He knows and engages the audience on the importance of shore (hardness) of the polyurethane. The second part of his application that’s great is that he’s replacing rubber with polyurethane.

Both materials are of the same elastomeric family. However, polyurethane is superior to rubber and is a definite upgrade. As long as the urethane compound is good these engine mounts should outlast and outperform the rubber. There is outgassing from the creation of plastic (and the burning of rubber which could be toxic!) so wearing a mask is a must. We also cannot endorse this particular application since we don’t have experience in it. However, it remains as far as we can tell a well-crafted DIY video from an informed individual who has carefully chosen the plastic for his application and seen excellent results with performance and cost savings. Might be something to look into if you’re a DIY car enthusiast!

You can view the video here:

UHMW polyethylene has countless applications for the DIY community but as we head into winter there is one simple application that we have to highlight on this blog. That is the UHMW plow blade for snow plows. Let’s not over-complicate things: this is just a UHMW strip with some holes drilled in. But in order to get what you need, you need to know what to ask for! First of all know that the material you likely want is the reprocessed-black UHMW grade. While being less expensive than the natural grade, the cross-linking in its production actually improves wear properties. A nice bonus when you’re also saving some money.

You also need to know what thickness of blade you want. In general, the blades are almost always 1″, 1.5″ or 2″ thick with 1.5″ being the most common. If you don’t know what you need, pick 1.5″. Many plastic companies will pre-drill holes for you if you need them for a fee (usually about $80.00) but we would recommend you do not. Firstly to save money, secondly you need to remember that UHMW is not a dimensionally stable plastic. Changes in temperature may expand the blade from when the holes were drilled meaning by the time you get it – the holes don’t line up! To avoid disappointment we recommend you do the drilling if at all possible.

If you have questions about UHMW snow plow blades please contact us.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Acrylic sheet (sometimes called “acrylic glass”) is a well known plastic with countless applications for the “DIY” community. Everything from cold frames, to decorations, window replacements or even laser-etched business cards (look them up!). Acrylic offers several advantages other plastics, particularly see-through plastics, do not have. Acrylic’s main competitor in the world of plastics is Polycarbonate. Polycarbonate has higher impact strength than acrylic and should be selected when that is the main concern. Otherwise, acrylic will be slightly (about 15%) less expensive, have superior UV and weathering resistance and be much more scratch resistant: which is a major concern with polycarbonate.

Recently we stumbled across a website called www.instructables.com which has an index for all sorts of really neat acrylic projects to get your creative juices flowing! You can find these projects here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Projects-with-Acrylic/

instructables

Over the years we over at Redwood Plastics (the company that sponsors this blog) get inquiries all the time asking for synthetic ice. Most customers have seen it, but they do not know what it is, how much it costs, or how to install it. This can cause disappointment in people who dream of skating on an all-weather, all-year rink.

The first “fact” to discuss is what is synthetic ice in the first place? It could be one of two types of plastic. Companies that specialized in synthetic ice, of offering pieces that are perhaps 24″ x 48″ or 48″ x 48″ with interlocking segments, that synthetic is usually high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material in 3/8″-1/2″ thick. However, when asking for synthetic ice from a general plastics distributor you will usually be offered Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE or shortened, UHMW) this slicker, stronger, and yes – more expensive – polyethylene variant is widely stocked. Almost no plastics distributor will stock purpose-made interlocking sheets of synthetic ice: the market doesn’t warrant the inventory space.

The next question that comes up is cost and here is where a lot of the disappointment occurs. All synthetic ice is “expensive” but UHMWPE, as an engineering-grade industrial plastic, is more so. Prices will vary but a ballpark price for 3/8″ thick material would be $400.00/sheet and $600.00/sheet for 1/2″ thick in a 48″ x 120″ sheet. For a power skater who is also procuring a harness and wants to “skate on the spot” for training, this price can be OK, because only one sheet will be needed. But many potential customers want to build an entire rink out of the material and that becomes cost-prohibitive for many upon quoting.

The next barrier faced in a synthetic ice application is that customers usually do not know how to “make” a rink defer that responsibility to the plastic distributor. Unfortunately, most distributors just sell plastic and do not operate like a hardware store where representatives are well-versed in most potential applications you would use a particular plastic for. They can tell you how slick it is and how it will react to sun exposure all day long – but they won’t be able to tell you how to make a rink. What they can also tell you, which often comes as a surprise, is that the UHMW cannot be “glued” to a floor. You must figure out another way to keep the sheets stationary. Most often this is done by the customer designing a frame which is just big enough to contain their rink: the frame and pressure of the sheets pushing against each other keeps the rink stable.

One of the other common questions we get asked is “how long does the rink last?” Impossible to answer with accuracy since there’s no baseline in how much people use it. But perhaps 2 years is typical before the surface is so worn the sheets need replacement. Half-inch thick plastic will slightly last longer as there’s more area to get chewed up.

Synthetic ice remains an excellent DIY project for the skating enthusiast; however, you need to understand the facts about what it’s going to involved to design and purchase your rink.

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