Acetal vs. UHMW

Posted: January 7, 2014 in Acetal, machining, UHMW
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Home machinists are often bewildered by the wide variety of plastics available. Each plastic has its own advantages and disadvantages. Two that seem similar to the uninformed are acetal and UHMW. However, as the YouTube video we found shows – machining the two materials is very different. Acetal is extremely hard and machines to close tolerances without “gumming” up lathes. UHMW on the other is soft and is difficult to machine and suffers from thermal expansion. Both materials are impervious to moisture and come in FDA compliant forms. Price is a major factor between the two as UHMW is much more economical and this means for projects that do not require maximum precision, UHMW will usually perform very well. An example “diy” UHMW application would be sled tracks, popular in Arctic locations.

Acetal, as you might expect, performs better in precise – typically small – parts. Acetal is also extremely hard and can replace metals (and is often marketed for that reason), such as in the case of the paintball marker bolts highlighted in one of our recent blog postings. For more information check out these acetal and UHMW website sub-pages and watch this video that shows some of the machining differences:

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