Product Spotlight: Redco ULTEM

High performance plastics face extra challenges other materials do not. Because of the prevalence of consumer grade plastic, unfortunately plastic with much of the public has become synonymous with “cheap” – low price and low quality. Unfortunately, this is a complete myth for the three grades of plastics (engineering/industrial, high performance, and imidized) that are above consumer grade plastics. In fact, at the higher tiers of quality plastics widely outperform metal and other traditional materials in most applications. And this does come with a subsequent increase in product cost (though usually a lower “lifecycle cost”). But for your money you get quality in a phenomenal material.

ULTEM (polyetherimide – “PEI”) in its virgin form has an interesting amber/translucent color. It handles hot water and air well, up to 332 Fahrenheit in continuous operation. Its resistance to repeated steam sterilization makes it a prized material for medical tools and devices. ULTEM is also very useful to the electronics industry due to its dielectric constant and arc resistance. It is also resistant to gamma radiation and does not absorb water. ULTEM is considered a dimensionally stable plastic with high strength and rigidity allowing it to be machined precisely to tighter tolerances than other plastics would allow. It is also available in 10, 20, and 30% glass filled grades to offer even higher dimensional stability.

If you have a high heat application requiring a precisely machined part ULTEM may be the optimal plastic for you. To discuss this or other plastics please contact us.

Solution Spotlight: ULTEM Emergency Valve Replacement

As people involved in performance plastic solutions, things often move slow. Consultations, material tests, and products that sometimes involve several weeks lead time to manufacture. But every now and then that pace is broken up with an urgent situation. Recently one of our sales people was contacted by a client in the food service industry. They had a valve that was seizing up and could only run the plant at 1/2 speed. The OEM of the equipment gave a 5 week lead time for a replacement valve, which would have cost our client an enormous amount of production. Our sales person went to work, first quoting a replacement for the under-performing acetal valve, made out of higher performance Redco ULTEM. ULTEM is a high-performance plastic that has excellent physical properties, is very tough, can handle high temperatures, and machines very well.

After some quick back and forth verbal quoting we received the go-ahead to rush the valve with less than 48 hours to get our hands on the ULTEM, machine, and get it to the customer. The valve was installed and was a total success. In fact, the customer who has multiple machines using this valve, will be converting over to the Redco ULTEM version exclusively.

Redwood Plastics reps are committed to doing their best for our customers. And while we can’t always work miracles, we will give it our all when circumstances such as this emergency come up. To contact a Redwood Plastics representative click here.


Plastics For Ultra-Pure Water

In many industries plastics are the right choice but sometimes they should be the only choice. Applications involving ultra-pure water are one of those situations. Those involved in the industry know that any materials used cannot have contaminating material, nor can they leach – the technical term being that materials require “extremely low extractable contaminants”. Unfortunately, metals do contaminate – take for example the semiconductor industry. Metal (and anionic) contaminants can corrode electrical components or even shut down enzymatic processes, which would compromise quality and lead to the failure of the component. During the decade of the 1980’s the shift from steel to plastic started.

In the pharmaceutical and bioprocessing industries bacteria is a problem and porous materials that absorb moisture can also house colonies of microorganisms. These colonies can be difficult to control chemically and require a shutdown of the system. Fortunately, there are plastics available which do not absorb water, provide a haven for bacteria, or leach. A few examples are below, for more information you may wish to view this IAPD webinar on YouTube regarding the fluoropolymer options.

PVDF (Polyvinylidene Fluoride):

Perhaps the best known polymer for high-purity water applications PVDF has many excellent properties. It is a

PVDF piping

PVDF piping

very stiff fluoropolymer and has higher abrasion resistance compared to many members of its “family”. It also has extremely low smoke generation and will not burn in air. This is combined with the benefit of a relatively low cost compared to some other fluoropolymers. Strong polar solvents and caustic substances are a concern, however.

ECTFE (Ethylene-Chlorotrifluorothylene):

One of the most advanced fluoropolymers, ECTFE has outstanding properties. High tensile strength, good impact strength, outstanding chemical resistance. ECTFE also is a good electrical insulator and is UV resistant for outdoor applications. As you might expect, these properties come with at a high financial cost. However, in certain applications ECTFE may be the only option. 

Other fluoropolymers such as PFA and FEP have similar uses in high-purity water applications.

PVC/CPVC (Polyvinyl chloride and Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride):

PVC piping is so commonplace that it has almost become synonymous with “plastic pipe” – at least for the everyday consumer outside of the plastic industry. Fairly recently, specialized grades of PVC and CPVC have become available for high-purity water applications. These plastics have a reasonable cost compared to fluoropolymers and people are comfortable with the material. That said, note these are specific grades for high-purity applications and not in reference to standard PVC/CPVC.

For more information, contact us:

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

Plastics in Aerospace

On July 6th 2013 Asiana Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International airport, resulting in three deaths and several critical injuries. On July 9th the website, published an article about how the disaster could have been worse if not for the use of advanced plastics in the Boeing airliner. You can find the article here.

Truth is high-performance plastics and composites have a long history in aerospace and have been making flights safer for decades. And the use of these plastic materials is ever increasing: the new Boeing Dreamliner’s airframe uses plastic composites as the primary material in its construction. Other plastics of note used in aerospace include PEEK, Ultem, PVF, acrylic and other fluoropolymers.

Why are plastics used so much?

Contrary to the stereotype of cheap plastics burning easily and creating toxic smoke, high-performance plastics are heat and flame resistant. Advanced plastics used in aerospace have very little smoke emission, are resistant to chemicals and do not corrode. In several aircraft disasters it was the smoke inhalation, not the crash itself, that led to the majority of deaths. Air Canada Flight 797 and  British Airtours Flight 28M were two such tragic incidents but, thankfully, the increased use of plastics, combined with other safety improvements, has vastly reduced fatal incidents involving smoke since the 1990’s.

Aerospace is just one industry where plastics improve safety and solve maintance issues. For any questions please contact us:

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

Take a PEEK

Here at Redwood Plastics we are constantly reinforcing the value of plastics to a variety of industries. One thing we do is constantly remind people of the remarkable properties of plastics. Properties like low coefficient of friction, impact strength, or ease of machining. However, certain plastics still stand above others in how truly impressive they are, even compared to other great plastic materials. Redco™ PEEK definitely qualifies as one such material.

PEEK is an acronym for PolyEtherEtherKetone, a semi-crystalline high-performance thermoplastic. PEEK makes a n excellent bearing material with great strength, toughness and rigidity. Like UHMW, it has very low moisture absorption and abrasion resistance.

However PEEK has some more unique properties that set it apart from many other thermoplastics. Perhaps its greatest property is its extremely high temperature tolerance – 480 F (250 c) in continuous use. This makes PEEK a rival to PTFE (Polytriflouroethylene) in regards to high-temperature applications; however, many of PEEK’s physical properties are superior to PTFE. Furthermore, due to its low moisture absorption, PEEK is unaffected by exposure to hot water or steam. Yes, this is a plastic that can continually handle temperatures hotter than most oven settings you would use to cook your food! A second key property is PEEK’s resistance to all common solvents and a wide range of organic (and inorganic) liquids.

Besides unfilled (general purpose), PEEK comes in three filled grades.

1.) Bearing Grade – Carbon fiber, graphite, and PTFE lubricants result in the lowest coefficient and best machinability of any PEEK grade.

2.) 30% Glass Filled – Reduces the expansion rate/increases flexural modulus. Ideal for applications requiring especially high strength above 300 F.

3.) 30% Carbon Fiber Filled – Lower expansion rate, higher compressive strength and stiffness. More thermal conductivity.

Practical opportunities for PEEK exist in a breadth of industries for a number of potential products including:


-Medical instruments

-Automotive engine parts

-Pump wear rings

-Computer wafer handling components

-Bearings and bushings

PEEK truly sets itself apart from other thermoplastics. For more information on PEEK or questions regarding your application please contact us.

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

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