Posts Tagged ‘HDPE’

In the plastics world and probably material distribution in general, one of the most deflating statements is when we as plastic solution provider knows the optimal material but the customer doesn’t see the value in the solution. What we mean by that is the solution is judged to be too expensive, even if it’s exactly what the customer needs. This feeds from the “it’s just plastic” myth that engineering and high-performance plastics should be cheaper, or at least equal to, comparative metal, wood, or other traditional materials. Engineering plastics are a premium material – both in price and performance. You truly do ‘get what you pay for’.

Commonly a plastics sales representative is asked immediately after the conversation above, “It’s too expensive, what do you have that’s cheaper and have the same properties?” Realistically it’s virtually never the case that you can get a similar material, but cheaper, and has the same properties. Would we expect that with other material solutions? If you found a high-grade of steel and felt it was too expensive: would you then ask “Ok, what metal is cheaper but has the same properties?” Reading that your immediate thought is probably “there is none!” For example, aluminum is a metal and is less expensive but nobody would argue that aluminum has very different properties than steel.

We have to see value beyond price. When a distributor helps you select the optimal material for a project and expresses that, there needs to be a level of trust involved. Trust that your application will work the best it possibly can, trust that what’s being supplied will last as long as possible, with as little maintenance as possible, giving you as much satisfaction as possible. We encounter a disparity in value vs. cost sometimes with our industrial customers. They would rather spend $50 per part five times per year on cheap replaceable parts, then spend $175.00 once per year and have a long-lasting solution. Note that the customer is losing out both financially and in ways that are difficult to quantify: they spend more time doing maintenance and replacements than if they just used the right solution, the first time.

An example of a product the public has difficulty seeing the value in is wood grain HDPE. This is a new product that is strong and formulated for outdoor use. The approximate cost per sheet is several hundred dollars for a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plastic. Customers balk at the cost, how could it be so much more expensive than wood? Well, it’s an engineered product that needs to be made in a factory and not produced by the thousands or millions of board feet like lumber, but it also has all sorts of additives to make sure it lasts long with very little maintenance. If you could have an outdoor kitchen area with cabinets that would never rot, never rust, never suffer insect attack, isn’t that worth something?

The next time a plastics representative suggests confidently what the optimal material is, perhaps do give it second thought, knowing that “less, but equal” really doesn’t exist and try to see the long-term value of the solution you’re buying!

 

Let’s let the dreariness of winter pass for a moment with warm thoughts of Spring shall we?

Outdoor living areas are becoming more intricate and popular these days. What was once just a barbecue and some furniture is now a full living space, often with a complete outdoor kitchen and lounge, with a fire place and so forth. As outdoor spaces have grown, the plastics world has grown with them and we want to highlight two excellent plastics for outdoor living areas.

The first is HMW PE 500 where the letters stand for “high molecular weight polyethylene”. This food-safe white plastic provides an excellent cutting surface for your outdoor food preparation needs. Unlike UHMW PE, HMW PE 500 will not dull your knife blades. The product is available as standard in 4′ x 8′ sheets. If you don’t have a use for all of that plastic, why not cut some of the extra into cutting boards for friends or family?

The second plastic might even be more exciting. It is “wood grain” HDPE plastic. This UV-stable and wear-resistant plastic has a faux wood grain finish. Strong and long-lasting, it replaces wood with a low-maintenance alternative for a wide array of outdoor living projects. Example applications include counter tops, cupboards, table surfaces, tree houses, or virtually anything else you can put your mind to. The sheets are currently available in a standard 4′ x 8′ x 3/4″ (thick) sheet. Currently the only color is brown but tan and black are being developed.

For pricing on these products please contact Redwood Plastics and Rubber.

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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Redco HDPE “Play” Board

Posted: February 21, 2017 in HDPE
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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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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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Hockey Puckboard

Posted: July 12, 2016 in HDPE
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Have you ever tried to get a quote on “synthetic ice”? Most of the time that refers to white UHMW polyethylene and regrettably most folks don’t understand how expensive a sheet of that material is…Several hundred dollars for the required thickness in a 4′ x 10′ standard sheet size. This sometimes makes the hockey fan give up their idea prematurely because unless you want

The good news is for many “DIY” at home hockey applications a much less expensive material will do the trick. HDPE “puckboard” is literally named after the hockey puck – it is a type of plastic sheet used as hockey “boards”. That’s a purpose it can serve in your basement or home rink as well: puck board will take the power of hockey shots and not break. Most commonly it’s used as a platform to shoot pucks off of: protecting the ground and providing a smooth surface to shoot off of.

The plastic can be had for pretty cheap from a distributor that stocks it. You can expect to pay between $80-$120 for a 4′ x 8′ sheet, which is quite inexpensive as far as traditional “industrial” plastics go. The plastic is easily worked with home tools (drills, power saws). You do need to watch out for the fact that it is not UV-stable meaning if you leave it outside you will eventually get UV damage…It will crack and become brittle, no longer holding up to shots.

That said, if you’re a hockey fan and want a cost-effective plastic to use for anything short of skating on, puck board will serve you well.

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DIY Plastic Welding Videos

Posted: October 14, 2015 in Uncategorized
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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!