Plastics – Did You Know?

plastics-are-tough-01For those of us dealing in mechanical and high-performance plastics, the advanced properties and abilities of these plastics to provide solutions in various applications can be a big surprise as we learn about them. After all, most people’s experience with plastics are in consumer items: electronic casings, packaging and disposable products. People come to believe that plastic is “cheap” and are therefore surprised when they learn about the properties of the more advanced plastics. It is a prejudice the industry is constantly fighting to overcome.

On that train of thought, we wanted to share a few random bits of plastic trivia that may surprise you and might change your personal view of these remarkable materials:

-Did you know…PTFE is the third ‘slickest’ solid known?

-Did you know…PTFE is also the only known substance a gecko can’t stick to?

-Did you know…Fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) structural materials have 80% of the strength of steel, at 30% of the weight?

-Did you know…Plastics outwear metal 2-20x in many applications?

-Did you know…Plastics such as HDPE and UHMW can provide medical radiation shielding?

-Did you know…Plastic development helped fuel the post World War II economy?

-Did you know…Elastomers such as polyurethane always return to their original size after any impact?

-Did you know…Many plastics are recyclable?

-Did you know…”Circuit board” laminates used in electronics are a type of plastic?

-Did you know…Plastics such as Polyamide-Imide can continuously operate at 500 degrees Fahrenheit?

-Did you know…UHMW-PE is unbreakable in ASTM notched Izod impact testing?

We could go on and on with the trivia – but that should provide a glimpse into the potential bound up in those polymers. For help with your application, contact us:

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


Plastic Failure

Plastics are a great solution to problems of wear, noise and abrasion in many industries and outperform traditional materials in countless applications. However, at times, plastics will fail due to several possible reasons. The good news is by understanding where failure happens, you can minimize or avoid the chances of failure in your application. To assist you, our customer, we wanted to summarize and expand on this article by the directory ThomasNet. Phenolic_2

Failure can happen in one of four sections of the part process: selection, design, manufacturing or service. As your distributor, working with you we can minimize the chances of failure in three of those parts of the process – we only do not have control of the manufacturing. Therefore we will focus on those other three areas.


This is probably where most of the avoidable errors happen. Commonly, this is because the right material is not chosen due to the desire for a cheaper (and lower performing) plastic than the application requires or simple lack of knowledge about various properties of a plastic that an end-user really needs to know. For example, the common UV-stabilizing additive carbon black also can make the plastic electrically conductive. If a customer does not know that and we do not know of electrical concerns the plastic may fail in the application – and even be dangerous. As we stress to our customers, the benefits of choosing the correct plastic for an application, regardless of price, do pay off in a longer lifecycle, increased safety and reduced downtime.


As your distributor, when we assist with a design some of this responsibility does fall on us. However, to minimize failure in design we need as much information as possible. Specific figures for tolerances, measurements and other requirements. Unfortunately, critical information is sometimes withheld by our customers as they are fearful of revealing too much information on a unique part or application. Please know that Redwood Plastics holds itself to the highest degree of ethics on confidentiality with your part so please, do not hold back on the application or any information we require to design accurately.

If the design is done by an end-user, the best way we can minimize failure is by having you provide an accurate drawing with all dimensions and tolerances listed.


In the field failures can often occur from mistakes committed before field use; however, failures can also occur if the end-user has not provided accurate parameters for the part when installed. There could also be a chain of errors that lead to failure in the field. For example, a bearing material for an extreme application where external lubrication is difficult was selected anyways without lubricating additive (to reduce costs) in the selection process and then bearing loads were underestimated in design. In this case failure is possible, if not probable.

In concluding, we as your distributor are here to bring our knowledge and experience to assist you in the correct plastic for your application. However, to do our job effectively we require accurate information on the application and a willingness to select and proceed with the design based on the optimum material for the job. There are many reasons that can lead to failure of a plastic part – but working together – these can be reduced if not eliminated.

Contact us for help on your application:


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

Plastics Makes Maintenance in Mining Easier

As pictured above, haul trucks and shovels used in mine sites have assigned numbers on all sides of the equipment. Currently made of aluminum and coated in reflective adhesive, these numbers are up to two feet tall and are typically tacked on with rubber-backed mounts.

Maintenance employees of many companies have expressed how unhappy they are with the integrity of these numbers. They get heavily abused and the grommets break and need to be repaired. Redwood Plastic has found a unique plastic solution to  solve this problem.

Starting with High-Visibility colored Redco 500 plastic, the numbers are water-jet cut and bolted to metal backing plates. The backing plates offer a strong foundation to tack the numbers to the equipment with welds that will hold strong without breaking.These highly visible numbers are much stronger and can withstand more wear and tear than the old material.

Contact Redwood Plastics for more information on innovative plastics solutions.


CDN: 1 800 667 0999

USA: 1 866 733 2684

Plastics Solve Poultry Transport Dilemma

Image Credit: Google Images

Redwood Plastics recently played a part in the poultry processing business. Two of their valued customers in Saskatoon have curtain trailers that they use to transport their birds. The Curtain trailers, similar to the one pictured above, run on a slider system where a cable along the top of the trailer allows the curtains to slide to the front for loading and unloading. While this system is convenient, the blocks endure heavy use and frequently wear out from the constant abuse.

Redwood Plastics offered these customers a plastic solution that outlasts other options – Redco Acetal. Redco™ Acetal provides strength, stiffness, low coefficient of friction, and dimensional stability that deliver a versatile and easily machinable material. It often exceeds the life of many parts that are traditionally metal. Additionally, custom colours and sizes are available upon request.

Another area Redwood Plastics helps the poultry transport industry is by providing a Redco Polyurethane drawer that doesn’t crack or break like other models under the constant use and washing. Redco Polyurethane combines the toughness of metal with the elasticity of rubber. It has the ability to withstand the most severe abuse, making it the ideal material for poultry drawers which are washed often.

Contact Redwood Plastics for more information on innovative plastics solutions.

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

Maintenance Free – No Painting or Staining

With ‘greener’ initiatives gaining momentum and pressure being placed on municipalities to spear head programs so that they can be associated as being environmentally focused – Redco™ Greenplus Recycled Plastic Lumber is a win/win product for everyone.

A local Parks & Recreation department replaced traditional lumber sign posts to plastic lumber. Redco™ Greenplus Recycled Plastic Lumber is a long lasting, low maintenance alternative to wood. Also resistant to moisture, fungus and insects.

Some applications for Redco Greenplus:
Benches, decks, docks, boardwalks, parking curbs, horse stalls & pig barns, landscaping, dunnage, underwater applications, greenhouse footings, etc…

For more information please visit our website; or contact us:


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

BUSHINGS & BEARINGS – Why Plastics are Better…

Plastics are among the most obtainable and cost-effective materials used in a variety of applications. They are easy to fabricate, durable and efficient, resulting in an ideal material for bearings and bushings.

SN InsertsBecause of plastics sheer usefulness and malleability, some plastic bushing grades can be designed for extreme environments and can withstand extremely high or low temperatures. Others are even suitable for hazardous environments with high levels of shock and vibration.

• Self lubricating

• Outstanding load bearing properties

• Excellent for impact and shock application

• Exceptional wear life and resistance to corrosion

• Low temperature resistance to -80°F

BearingsDifferent plastic grades can also be bonded together. For example, feed rollers would have a softer outer diameter with a harder inside diameter. Bringing these two materials together creates the perfect balance of shock absorption and grip with high load bearing capabilities. Metals (steel, bronze, etc) can also be bonded to plastics.

For more information please visit our website; or call us at:

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

Please Consider:

Plastic Clearance/Tolerance is subject to many variables (i.e. Moisture, Cold Heat) when being machined for specific applications. If lubrication is supplied to a plastic bearing, the load and life are greatly increased dependent on the type and volume of lubricant. Consult our Machining Chart available on our website.