Which Metal Alloy or Resin is Right? – 5 Considerations

Which metal alloy or plastic is best??? How do I know what materials I need? Not everyone is a metals or plastics expert and good news is that not everyone needs to be.

The key to knowing which material is right for your product lies in knowing the qualitative traits you need and want in the item. 5 things to consider…

Functionality:

What is the part supposed to do? Is it a structural part or not? Does it experience movement, exposure to weight, stresses, chemicals, oils, sun, etc?  How hard does it have to be? These are big questions and key to the design of the part.

Aesthetic:

How is your part supposed to look? Glossy, matte, multi-color, translucent?  The look of a part will inform the alloy or resin decision. Many times the look and design requirements dictate a final finish, or layer of a plastic part that is a different resin and formula than the resin used in the structural portions of the part.

Impact and Wear Resistance:

The amount of impact or wear your product needs to be able to withstand is important.  Think of impact in 2 ways. Likelihood and intensity of things moving towards and then impacting the item, and conversely, likelihood and intensity of impact caused by movement of item towards other things. The result (the impact) may be the same but knowing the forces and possible accidents or planned impacts will direct the design engineer on what materials to use and or avoid. Wear (either planned in or unanticipated), can abrade material and can also lead to consequences of friction and movement. If considered in advance of choosing a material, you can mitigate the effects that friction (produces heat) and the effect of the the wear on the material or alloy chosen. One must be sure of the environment, kinetics, and temperatures that will be native to the area the product may be used in.

Temperature:

Temperature attributes deserve their own mention. As previously stated, one must know the type of temperatures the part will be exposed to during its functional life. Certain alloys and plastics are more fit to working in high heat while others do better at cooler temperatures. Expansion and contraction of the part, as well as material fatigue and degradation need to be considered. If temperature attributes are not thought about beforehand it could result in faulty product or diminished functionality or even part failure under certain conditions.

Composition, Certification, Traceability and Value:

Another important thing to consider is if your product must be anything beyond functional, safe and aesthetically acceptable.  Does the part need to be labeled as environmentally friendly or “green”? Does it need to be “baby-safe” or some other hot-button label?  Does it need to have a marketable composition such as “made with Kevlar’? Certification of special processes and traceability are important for most industries but required for aerospace, defense and government.

 

The takeaway… There are a multitude of alloys, plastic and composites available to you and your design engineer.  Informing your designer and Jetool of the above considerations will help to identify the specific type of materials and formulations you need to make your parts and meet your goals.  Don’t want to go it alone? Need a design expert to help you decide the right material for your project?  You can contact Jetool today at mailbox@jetool.com