Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

A lot of what we offer here on the “DIY” blog is material information; however, as the hobbyist, you actually have to cut, drill, and machine the plastic yourself. It’s beneficial to educate yourself on practical fabrication matters. Most hobbyists grow up working with metal and wood; however, industrial plastic is only usually encountered when one knows to look for them – usually when one is a teenage “DIYer”.

The prevalence of CNC machines in recent years makes machining knowledge even more critical. In the video linked below, Instagrammer Tom Zelickman educates on issues he’s had with machining plastics and how to overcome various challenges including his stressing about one “aggressively” machining plastics and cleaning them.

You can view the whole video on YouTube here:

For some reason PVC plastic, DIY, and summer seem to be a magic trifecta! The plastic is strong, commonly available, and easy to work with. It has a disproportionate number of applications in the DIY community due to it being such a commonly available pipe. What are not so common are videos as good as this one we’ve found! Unlike many DIY videos, this one states exactly how the project was made even down to specific measurements for the drill holes for the spray nozzles. The video also includes a life test and troubleshooting of what would appear to be a common problem. Once the project is said and done it appears to work marvellously!

Don’t take our word for it, see for yourself:

Industrial plastics can be quite expensive and this is compounded by the fact that for certain applications you may have your hands tied to use a material that is costly because it’s whats required to work. However, there are some tips you can use to minimize the costs to yourself and make sure you don’t waste your money! Without further adieu, here are some tips for saving money with your industrial plastic purchases.

1.) Don’t be picky about color

This is a surprisingly big deal and why we’re leading off with this suggestion. Members of the DIY community at times seem to want to prioritize a certain color of the plastic to fit in with their application. However, in the world of industrial products color is often not changeable without high costs or custom orders. In most cases, plastics have a standard color and if you insist or request certain colors you will pay dearly for it. Accept that color is just that – color – and for the right functional material go with the standard color the material happens to come in.

2.) Hunt for offcuts

Most plastics distributors with fabrication capabilities get left with offcuts from larger fabrication jobs. These pieces of sheet may be in odd shapes that are difficult to use or sell so they sit in a rack collecting dust. If you need just a portion of sheet material, ask your distributor if they have an off cut close in size they could cut you a deal on. Many will! But don’t make the mistake of then asking them to take that offcut and cut it to size for you. This will incur costs and essentially rob the distributor of the convenience you’re offering by taking an “as-is” piece of plastic they don’t need to do any work to.

3.) Don’t request a higher grade of plastic than you need

For many DIY applications a top-level grade of plastic isn’t required for success. An example we commonly see is people requesting cast acrylic or “Plexiglass”. This product is about 30% more expensive than the more common, and more available, extruded acrylic. For a modest boost in physical properties and optical clarity you may be paying a lot extra. People tend to look at websites, see something “cool” that happens to be a premium grade product and request a quote whereas an economy grade will work just fine.

4.) Ask for help with your application

This one is pretty simple but effective. Simply tell your local plastics distributor what you’re doing with the application and ask for the most economical plastic for that purpose. They’ll likely have questions for you such as what tolerances your part needs to be held to (if any), impact, chemical exposure, etc. However, as long as you’re able to answer those questions, they will have the knowledge to point you to the least expensive material that will still work.

5.) Do the fabrication yourself

This might be a surprise to see on a blog devoted to people who “do it themselves” but surprisingly members of the DIY community often provide sketches of the simple parts they need and request that the distributor quote completed parts instead of material. This should go without saying, but you are adding massive cost to your project as shop labor is sold to you within the price to make your pieces. If at all possible, BE the “Do-It-Yourselfer” and make the parts yourself buying only the raw sheet/rod/tube.

For assistance with your plastic application, please contact Redwood Plastics and Rubber.

Plastics are very recyclable in general and it is a travesty that poor recycling behaviors have given the material an undeserved bad reputation. Efforts begin at home and fortunately LDPE and HDPE, two common household plastics, can be melted down using household appliances and then remade into new objects. The video we are sharing below doesn’t actually teach you what to make with the polyethylene recycled plastic; however, it does teach you a simple way to melt the plastic into a brick, which could then me fabricated into a new project or alternatively, melted down into a new mold.

In less than five minutes this video will provide you with the essentials to recycle your own HDPE and LDPE:

One of the most common questions the DIY community has is trying to figure out what type of plastic they have or need. Maybe you have an old part or sample and you forget what it is? Perhaps the two plastics people most want to differentiate between are acetal and UHMW (or other polyethylene). But they both come in white and black and they kind of look similar, so what to do? Well, if you’re familiar with the two plastics UHMW or HDPE will feel different: more waxy and lighter than the acetal which almost feels like more of a metal than anything.

There’s another way to identify polyethylene though as long as you can disfigure the sample. Take a sharp knife, such as a steak knife, and start scraping the plastic, give it some gusto with long strokes. If the plastic shaves off in curls then you have polyethylene. Acetal and other plastics will not do this, an example of polyethylene with this type of shaving is pictured here:


Part of the trick of figuring out your plastic application and finding which type of plastic to use. This is because 1.) engineering plastics are not widely known to most people and 2.) several of the plastics may work in an application. The trick is to find out which plastic is ideal in a given application, but how do you do that? Well, first you need to figure out what your priorities are either regarding properties: do you need a plastic with excellent impact-resistance? Or perhaps slickness? How about the ability to hold tight tolerances when machined?

After you pick your top couple priorities the next step is find a plastic that best matches your needs. Redwood Plastics and Rubber offers a handy webpage with some information here. However, we’ll also copy and paste the contents of that page below:

SLICKNESS (Most to Least)

Redco PTFE (Teflon®)

Redco UHMW

Redco Tuffkast

Redco Polyurethane (Redco 750SXL)

Redco Nylon

Redco Polyurethane (Redco 750)

Redco Phenolic




Redco PTFE (Teflon®) (500 – 600°F)

Redco Phenolic (400 – 500°F)

Redco Nylon (240 – 275°F)

Redco Tuffkast (220 – 240°F)

Redco Polyurethane (200 – 240°F)

Redco UHMW (160 – 180°F)




Redco Phenolic

Redco Nylon

Redco Tuffkast

Redco Polyurethane (Redco 750 & Redco 750SXL)




Breakage Resistant Windows

(Redco Acrylic/ Redco Polycarbonate)

Security Windows

(Redco Acrylic / Redco Polycarbonate)




Redco Phenolic (10000)

Redco Nylon (4000)

Redco Tuffkast (3800)

Redco Polyurethane (3000)

Redco UHMW (500 – 800)




Redco Polyurethane

Redco Tuffkast

Redco Phenolic

Redco UHMW

Redco Nylon








Redco Synsteel (Redco UHMW)

Redco SPS-2000 (Redco POLYURETHANE)




Redco Acetal

Redco UHMW



Safely Working With Phenolic

Posted: August 9, 2018 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

“Phenolic” which really refers to a wide range of plastics called the “industrial laminate” family offers remarkable physical properties such as strength and dimensional tolerances. When you combine that with immunity to rot, rust, mold, termites, etc. it can be an excellent replacement for wood and metal in many applications for the DIY community. However, different than most other plastics working with phenolics can cause a big mess and the product can irritate your lungs and is not a good thing to breathe in. This is especially an issue when phenolics are saw cut! You will need the following items:

  • Dust mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Long sleeved shirt and pants (coveralls are preferred)
  • Gloves

In general, you don’t want the dust to collect but you don’t want to dry sweep it either. Use some sort of wetting agent like water to coagulate it for removal. We found a safety document that is quite helpful and you can view and download it here.