Engineering plastics are a group of plastic materials that have better mechanical and/or thermal properties than the more widely used commodity plastics (such as polystyrene, PVC, polypropylene and polyethylene).
Being more expensive, engineering plastics are produced in lower quantities and tend to be used for smaller objects or low-volume applications (such as mechanical parts), rather than for bulk and high-volume ends (like containers and packaging).
The term usually refers to thermoplastic materials rather than thermosetting ones. Examples of engineering plastics include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), used for car bumpers, dashboard trim and Lego bricks; polycarbonates, used in motorcycle helmets; and polyamides (nylons), used for skis and ski boots.
Engineering plastics have gradually replaced traditional engineering materials such as wood or metal in many applications. Besides equaling or surpassing them in weight/strength and other properties, engineering plastics are much easier to manufacture, especially in complicated shapes.
The global engineering plastics market is valued at $57.2 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $91.78 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 8.2%.
Engineering plastics exhibit higher performance than standard materials, making them ideal for tough engineering applications. They have gradually replaced traditional engineering materials such as wood or metal in many applications because, not only do they equal or surpass them in their weight/strength ratio and other properties, but they are also much easier to manufacture, especially in complicated shapes.
Engineering plastics have superior performance in the areas of heat resistance, chemical resistance, impact resistance, fire retardancy and mechanical strength.
Engineering plastics are used in applications including:
• Electrical and electronics.
• Building and construction.
• Consumer goods and appliances.
• Industrial applications such as abrasion-resistant and corrosion-resistant liners.