Tolerances And Surface Finish

When we here at Redwood Plastics and Rubber get our estimators to work on a project we are required to fill out an internal form that, among other properties, specifies surface finish of the part and tolerances. Assumptions in these matters can occasionally result in customer disappointment but equally important the customer may be paying for tight tolerances or a surface finish that isn’t required for proper performance of the part. To reiterate: requiring tighter tolerances and a smoother surface finish than is required for a part means you are wasting money!

One of the biggest barriers to figuring out what tolerances and surface finish are required is that technical drawings rarely provide accurate information. Most commonly, drawings are supplied with metal tolerances – these are tolerances that are difficult or impossible to hold with plastics. Certain plastics such as acetal can be held to fairly tight tolerances but other commonly specified plastics such as UHMW-PE cannot. Questioning about how critical tolerances are at the very least can delay a quotation until we figure out what is required and doable.

A similar issue is that drawings often come with parts that have 90 degree square corners. This is also very difficult to supply and definitely adds cost. Our standard edge radius would be .125″ and knowing how critical the edge is or not will potentially save you, the customer, money and time.

Surface finish is a little bit of a tougher issue to tackle. Many customers do not know that a variety of surface finishes are available. Our standard is a “125 end mill” but do you know what that actually looks like? The tough part here is the customer may be expecting a “smooth” (very smooth!) part but if that isn’t specified we’d default to the end mill, which has small, but noticeable, grooving. Likewise, a rougher surface finish like a “500 shape turn” will potentially save the customer money.

At the end of the day we rely on you, the customer, to give us as precise information as is possible. It helps us not only supply a quicker quote but also a more competitive quote and that helps you as much as it helps us!


Case Study: Marine Fendering

Recently Redwood Plastics was approached by a large California-based construction contractor for assistance with a marine fendering project involving an electromagnetic detector array. The application had called for Redco HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) however, lead times on the HDPE as thick as specified would be too long. We came up with the idea of bolting two pieces of thinner UHMW (ultra-high molecular weight) polyethylene. The UHMW had better all-around properties anyways making it a superior choice. The availability of the UHMW meant we could hit the lead time required of the contractor and earn the business. We recently have had several inquiries on our ability to custom fabricate marine fenders and we’d enjoy helping out with yours. Pictures of the blocks and application are below.

If you require assistance with your project contact us today.

Plastic and The PNE

Last month Redwood Plastics partnered with Lanefab Design/Build in Vancouver, Canada –  recent winners of the Arthur Erikson Memorial Award for Emerging Design – to work on an entry for a playhouse, to be exhibited at the Pacific National Exhibition. The idea for Lanefab’s ‘Fab Forest’ design was forest made of wooden blocks where kids could be creative, rearranging the trees and playing with them however they would like. At the conclusion of the PNE, the playhouse will be sold to benefit BC’s Children’s Hospital.

Redwood was approached to help with a washer solution. The washers were to be placed between each set of branches and had the requirements of being slick enough for kids to easily move the branches, while being strong enough to handle rough play and even being climbed on. While this was a playhouse, in the interest of performance and safety, engineering plastics were well-suited to the design. Sometimes an ideal solution just presents itself because recycled (repro) UHMW not only had the strength and abrasion resistance required by the application, but was also recycled – which turned out to be beneficial for Lanefab’s design.

The project was a success. From the pictures you can see the ‘Fab Forest’ was a popular attraction. Some pictures of the construction and finished playhouse:



CDN: 1 800 667 0999
USA: 1 866 733 2684

Polycarbonate Mirrors for Mining Trucks

Back in October of 2012 Redwood Plastics was approached by a mining company located in Ukraine. The OEM mirrors on their mining trucks were shattering due the tough work environment and we were asked to help. High-quality plastic mirrored material is available in both Acrylic and Polycarbonate. Acrylic is easier to take care of , more resistant to certain solvents and does not scratch as easily as Polycarbonate; however, Polycarbonate has incredible strength. Acrylic is about 8x as strong as glass but Polycarbonate is around 250x as strong. Due to the breaking of the current mirrors, polycarbonate was selected due to its strength.

After obtaining measurements Redwood received an order for 31 mirrors. The mirrors were to be affixed to the existing frames by the crew at the mine. This is a new application Redwood has only worked with once before but it is just part of the expanding role in the mining industry we hope to be part of. We believe these mirrors are a common sense solution to OEM mirrors that break easily when taken off the showroom and into the pit mine.

The mirrors are surprisingly affordable and can be produced and shipped within a few short weeks of the purchase order.

If you work in the mining industry with large trucks, is not an inquiry on Redco™ Polycarbonate Mirrors worth a few minutes of your time? The maintenance savings in time and money over the life of these mirrors is well worth the effort.

An inquiry regarding these mirrors will be directly forwarded to Redwood’s contact who handles our Redco™ Polycarbonate Mirrors. If you are interested in these mirrors or other plastic solutions please contact us:

CDN: 1 800 667 0999
USA: 1 866 733 2684

Tuffkast and the Storm of 2006

Redwood Plastics has been in business for over 40 years with a long track record of success across a variety of applications. One of our proudest moments was our installation of Redco™ Tuffkast fenders at the B.C. Ferries terminals in Tsawwassen. These were essentially huge rubber-backed shock pads with Redco™ Tuffkast bonded to rubber. The large Tuffkast pads were actually a collection of smaller Redco™ Tuffkast “cells.” 

Not long after their installation they faced the harshest of tests.

On December 14, 2006 the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm slammed the Pacific Coast. The storm caused over 356 million dollars of damage on the coast and resulted in 18 fatalities. Over 1,000 trees in Vancouver (many in Stanley Park) were uprooted and at it’s peak B.C. Hydro reported 250,000 customers without power.

B.C. Ferry service was disrupted and the ferries at dock were at the mercy of the wind. They repeatedly slammed intoTuffkast-Dock-Fenders their docks. When the storm subsided; however, only one cell of one fender was damaged. Not by simple impact, but by a sharp protruding part of the ferry and even then the cell was easily repaired and not detached from the fender. B.C. Ferries employees noted that were it not for the Redco™ shock pads the wooden docks would have likely been destroyed.

So what is this stuff?

Redco™ Tuffkast is actually a mix of Type 6 and Type 12 Nylon. It has high impact and abrasion resistance, combining the tensile and compressive properties of Type 6 Nylon with the wear resistance of polyurethane. Furthermore, it is much more moisture resistant than regular Nylon, which is why Tuffkast was a good fit for a marine application such as the ferry dock.

Redco™ Tuffkast is available in three grades: Regular 025, 020 grade (carriage wheel grade), 015 oil-impregnated and finally the purple 010 solid lubricant grade. Tuffkast is a good choice for a variety of applications including gears, sprockets, valves, impact pads, sheaves and many more. Also very important is Tuffkast’s increased performance in cold, cold being the Achilles’ heel of regular Nylon.

For more information on this amazing plastic or any of our other plastic solutions please contact us today.

CDN: 1 800 667 0999
USA: 1 866 733 2684

Redco Introduces New FRP Product Lines

Recently Redwood Plastics Corporation and Strongwell, the world’s largest producer of pultruded materials, signed a distributorship agreement. This has greatly expanded Redwood’s Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) product lineup. The pultrusion process allows for materials to be produced in almost unlimited lengths, limited only by the application and freight restrictions. With the number of new products available we wanted to draw attention to a few highlights.

Redco™ SAFRAIL™  fiberglass handrails is a pultruded product suitable for a wide variety of industrial applications. SAFRAIL™ meets OSHA strength requirements and provides a 2:1 safety ratio. Redco™ SAFRAIL™ is particularly well suited to corrosive environments where liquid or airborne corrosive agents, such as salt, may be present.

The product outlasts other metals including aluminum and is non-conductive and maintenance free.  SAFRAIL™ is easy to install with its internally bonded fiberglass connectors meaning no visible rivets or metal parts.

Redco™ DURADEK® is a standard pultruded grating system that offers numerous advantages over traditional metal materials. Like other FRP materials, Redco™ DURADEK® is corrosion-resistant, non-conductive, and maintenance free. The product is flame-retardant and securely bonded with a proprietary method utilizing a 3-piece cross-rod system.

Redco™ DURADEK® has been successfully used in various industrial applications, notably in marine and waste treatment. The grating is available in both polyester and vinyl ester resins and includes a synthetic surfacing veil for increased UV and corrosion resistance.

Redco™ EXTREN® is a series of fiberglass reinforced building shapes and structures available in over 100 standard dimensions. Its properties include high strength, lightweight, corrosion resistance, low thermal and electrical conductivity and electromagnetic transparency.

That electromagnetic transparency property of Redco™ EXTREN® makes the material especially suited for applications such as cell phone towers or buildings involved in the scientific testing of systems like radar.

Redco™ EXTREN® is available in three grades: Series 500 (polyester resin with UV resistance), Series 525 (polyester resin with increased flame-retardant properties) and the Series 625 (Vinyl Ester resin with premium fire retardant and corrosion resistance properties).

For more information on Redwood’s exciting new line of FRP materials check out: or contact us today.

CDN: 1 800 667 0999
USA: 1 866 733 2684

EXTREN®, DURADEK® and SAFRAIL™ are registered trademarks of the Strongwell Corporation.

Lubx Creates Energy Savings

Energy costs are a major threat to modern business. As the world’s emerging economies continue to grow the pressure on energy sources (and the price of energy) will only increase.

FDA compliant Redco™ LubX® is a new High-Performance plastic designed specifically for material handling applications. Redco™ LubX® has remarkable “dry-run” properties providing a very low coefficient of friction without the addition of liquid lubricants. This reduces the energy required to transport materials along the conveyor chain, resulting in energy savings. In fact, the coefficient of friction is up to 75% less than standard UHMW-PE, already itself valued for low-friction properties.

Another unique feature of the polymer is that it was designed to have as low a friction coeffecient as possible with sliding partners, in order to reduce, if not eliminate, the slip-stick effect. For example, compared to UHMW, Redco™ LubX® slides 75% better against Acetal and 60% better against steel.

Redco™ LubX® is available currently in rod and sheet form from 1/4th” to 4″ thick in a blue-grey color.


For more information on Redco™ LubX® or other Redwood Plastics solutions please contact us today.

CDN: 1 800 667 0999
USA: 1 866 733 2684