For many people who celebrate the holidays, Christmas decorating is one of the most enjoyable parts of the season. While “engineering plastics” and “decorating” are not so commonly put together, people have found some remarkable ways of using polymer products to do some creative work! We’ve found a few highlights.

First on the list is the “Winter White Village” found on Pinterest. The idea is to use Touch ‘N Spray polyurethane white foam to create snowbanks as a backdrop for some holiday themed buildings. Simple, and it works. This is the picture used in this blog (found below) and the pin can be found here.

Secondly is the “UHMW skating rink”. We’ve blogged about this in years past, white UHMW polyethylene makes an excellent skating rink surface! It’s very slick and strong and can actually improve your skating ability on real ice as skating on UHMW requires about 20-30% more effort with your stride. In this case we don’t have a particular website for you: most of the good pictures are on commercial websites where if you try to click on them they want you to sign up for their service. You can still see some good pictures of this application by simply going to Google, click on the “images” tab and then searching for “UHMW skating rink.” UHMW sheet in 4′ x 10′ dimensions is readily available from North American plastic distributors. You just need to be ready for the pricing which can range from $300-$500 per sheet depending on what thickness you go with: 3/8″ or 1/2″ are the most common.

Thirdly, acetal Christmas-themed guitar picks would make a great stocking stuffer! Acetal, which is a very hard and rigid plastic that often replaces small metal parts, makes an excellent guitar pick. These holiday themed picks would go great with caroling and while websites do sell the finished picks, there’s no reason you could not buy a plain white pick, get some vinyl stickers and do your own designs! To check out some available designs click here.

And finally, what would the holidays be without a Christmas Tree? Trees made of recycled drinking bottles are becoming more commonplace. We think it’s a great idea to educate people, children especially, on the need to recycle. Plastics are easily – and economically – recycled after all! Many pictures and examples of these trees are available as inspiration to you. Maybe do one this year to educate your own family on the benefits of recycling? You can find an excellent example of such a tree by French artist Fabrice Peltier here.

We hope this examples inspire you to see how you can use plastics in your Christmas season celebration!


Something a little different here today, no plastic advice or “how-to” information. As you might know, Plastichowto is associated and managed by Redwood Plastics, a North American industrial plastics distribution and fabrication company. Along with the association we’re part of, the International Association of Plastics Distributors, increasing awareness of the environmental and recycling advantages of plastics has been a priority in 2015. The major hurdle we face is the news media too often reports stories of plastics contamination and waste. The tragic part of this is that people only see the negative: plastics in reality are extremely recyclable, take less energy than traditional materials such as metal to manufacture, create less greenhouse gas in their manufacturing and are otherwise very ‘clean’ – if only people were responsible in their disposal. Therefore, we fully support awareness and measures taken to reduce plastic pollution: as long as those measures also point out that plastics can be a clean, green option for product materials. Sadly, that message is very often overlooked.

One awareness project about plastic pollution was the “Bristol Whales” art project in England. The project used locally sourced wicker for the whales and made a “sea” out of plastic bottles. There’s a great Youtube clip on the making of this project you might be interested but watch it with this caveat: all those PET plastic drinking bottles used to make the ocean are fully recyclable, clean, and non-toxic. Is it the plastics’ responsibility to stay out of the ocean, or is it ours to be more responsible with the disposal and recycling of our products?

Food for thought…

Instead of assisting with a specific application today, we wanted to help you out with a single piece of information that really might help you. What if you have a project in mind that you think is suited to plastic but you have no clue where to start? You’re not at the point of selecting a grade of material, you just need to know where to start?  The International Association of Plastic Distributors (IAPD) Thermoplastics Rectangle is a good starting point! Many commonly used plastics are listed on the chart and it is designed to display where a plastic fits in regards to typical properties and cost as well as key characteristics of plastics at each level.

The most important distinction on the chart is between the semi-crystalline and amorphous plastics which split the chart in two. This is because the advantages and drawbacks of each tend to balance out each other. The chart will also give you some idea of price relative to each other. There have been times where a customer has wanted to switch up the plastic her/she is using currently and disappointed with the quotation, “I didn’t think the price would be THAT different!” you hear. Remember that other factors such as whether or not an item is in stock or even the distributor’s buying power with a certain material will affect cost.

We have placed a small thumbnail of the Thermoplastics Rectangle below. To get a downloadable large-sized PDF simply click on the picture.


DIY Plastic Welding Videos

Posted: October 14, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Plastic welding of materials like HDPE or ABS is probably one of the most useful skills for the home hobbyist interested in working with plastics. It seems to be easy and usually free as you can make your own weld rod out of other plastic lying around allowing you to repair damaged items.

A popular technique is to extract some plastic needed for your repair from another part of your item. For example, if you need to repair some molding on your boat, you might be able to cut away some of that plastic hidden under a seat where it won’t be missed. If only a little plastic is needed for a small repair you can make some shavings off of a place where no one will notice. We’re not plastic welding experts, we don’t do it ourselves, but we’ve found a couple videos from Youtubers who seem to know what they’re doing. Of course, this comes with the disclaimer that we do not endorse any of the techniques shown within!



Outdoor living areas are one of the biggest trends in home improvement these days. This almost always includes an outdoor cooking component such as a BBQ or even a full kitchen. One incredibly simple plastic application you can work on if you’re designing your outdoor living space is a big, quality cooking board. Not talking about a store bought cooking board – but one you can design and install yourself! All you really need is natural UHMW polyethylene. This is a widely-available FDA/CFIA approved plastic for food contact and is used as a cutting surface (among many other applications) at large scale food processors. Ever wonder what they were using? Now you know! The nice thing about a custom cooking board is that you get to have it in almost any size you want. Much larger sizes than you would find at a store.

The standard sheet size for UHMW is 4′ x 10′ but most distributors would gladly supply an offcut or cut whatever size piece you need and sell it by the square foot. In our experience 3/4″ thick material is ideal but 1/2″ would do in a pinch. Ensure the surface the UHMW is going to be affixed to is smooth and clean. Drilling in a few screws is all you really need to do – with a well-charged power tool, try to get the head of the screw flush with the surface of the cutting board. This will help cleanup as germs may grow in any recesses, just like any cutting board. For a larger cutting board at 3/4″ thick you can expect your UHMW costs to be around $80-$100. While that is more expensive than a store bought board – it’s a higher quality material (those boards are often made with high-density polyethylene, a lower-grade plastic) you will have more cutting surface and, of course, the satisfaction of knowing it’s your own design!

Now go enjoy that BBQ and the rest of this beautiful summer!

If you’re interested in some cutting board we would be happy to help you. Contact Redwood Plastics


We have highlighted many times the awesome applications and properties that industrial plastic can bring to your home projects. But the old adage “you get what you pay for” holds true with quality plastics, and the general public who do not work with these materials regularly are sometimes surprised at the cost. This is regrettable, but expected as the public’s only experience with plastic is often in cheap disposable products: there is a definite jump in price to a quality material!

But when it comes time to purchasing your industrial plastic from a distributor there are three tips that can result in substantial cost savings for you. And we’re happy to share them:

1.) Ask about offcuts

Many plastic applications for the “Do-it-yourselfer” community do not actually require a lot of material. Conversely, plastic distributors (trust us) hate having offcuts lying around. Now, the definition of “offcut” is fluid and not exacting. We’ve had customers inquire about 3′ x 8′ offcuts when the standard sheet size is 4′ x 8′ …That isn’t an offcut, it’s a sheet that leaves an offcut! However, if you can make do with smaller pieces (under two square feet) and pieces that may be in odd shapes (circles, or “L” shapes) then you may be able to get a deal without having to overpay for a full sheet.

It’s somewhat rarer to find “offcuts” for rod and tube stock, as those are often sold by the foot anyways. However, there are times when a distributor may have a certain piece of rod/tube stock lying around collecting dust, so feel free to ask. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.

2.) Go with a thinner material if possible

While you might expect plastics to be sold by the amount of material involved including thickness, what you don’t know is many plastics jump in price as they get thicker. It is not reasonable to assume that 3″ thick plastic will be exactly twice as much as 1.5″ thick. Often the price increases at a higher rate the thicker you go. For many applications you would do yourself, thicker material isn’t required. One common example is HDPE Puckboard, especially up in Canada. Customers simply want a pad to shoot hockey pucks off of and often request 1/2-1″ thick Puckboard, whereas 1/4″-3/8″ is not only more commonly stocked, but costs less and would work just fine in the application.

3.) Arrange your own freight

This is the big money saver of the group and we’ve saved the best tip for last. Many times a customer will request for a quote and not live in town, or even if they do live in town, the sizes of plastic material can be difficult to pick up unless you own a truck. Customers often will ask the distributor “what is the freight?” and give an address. What the customer needs to realize (even though this is often specified in the quote) is that it is a freight charge that is being given to them. For the distributor to go out and request a freight quote is a service, and that service must be paid for by marking up the freight. Not every distributor may do this – but many will!

This is such an easy process for you to do yourself, however. You only need to know the address of your distributor, their phone number, and your own address and phone number. Freight quote forms are often one page, easy to fill, and can be done in perhaps 45-60 seconds. If you need to know the weight of your order, just ask the distributor. The couple minutes of extra work here can save you a lot of money.

“Bonus” freight tip: When arranging your freight, first ask the distributor if they can cut down your material into a smaller size and if there is any charge levied for this. Some will cut for free, in which case the smaller dimensions can result in even less expensive shipping.

We hope you found that information useful. If you need help with your plastic project you’re welcome to contact us here.


Perhaps no industrial plastic is more requested by the “do-it-yourselfer” community than acrylic. Prized for its beauty and well-known because it is used in many applications where the public would encounter the material (displays, aquariums, giftware). In short, acrylic has gained an impressive reputation. But when you work with the material, especially if you’re inexperienced, you really need to do your due diligence in learning the strengths and weaknesses of acrylic and learn how to fabricate it properly.

One of the first tips – especially if you’re just starting out – is to temper your expectations. People imagine they can create polished, flawless projects at home similar to what they have seen in existing products or on the internet. But acrylic is “fussy” to fabricate, it can crack easily if fabrication is done near the edges of the material, it can scratch and the nice, polished finish you see is done by a technique called “flame-polishing” which is a skill that needs to be developed and requires special equipment.

We will provide a couple key tips on this blog but also want to direct you to another blog that seems to be an excellent resource for general acrylic fabrication, which can be found here.

Some tips we can offer:

-ALWAYS leave the masking cover on the acrylic (this provides protection from cracking).

-Avoid fabrication such as drilling near the edges of the acrylic (best to leave a couple inches) as the material can be prone to cracking.

-Acrylic has good UV-resistance, use it outdoors in confidence.

-Cure time for glued acrylic is around 48 hours – be sure you have a way of stabilizing your project while the glue bonds.

Lastly, for some quick tips on gluing acrylic check out this Youtube video: