Application Spotlight: Redco HDPE “Play” As Outdoor Tabletops

Recently Terrapin Brewing Co (www.terrapinbeer.com) approached us with an interesting application. They wanted to create a plastic table surface for use at their brewery but this offered some unique challenges. For one, the tables were outside which meant that a UV-stable plastic was in order. Secondly, a variety of properties were important: wear, impact, anti-slip and non-fading color would be desirable. But most importantly the color had to be green and a green that was fairly close to the branding of Terrapin Brewing Co. This is difficult in the world of industrial plastics where custom colors can mean extra costs, long lead times, and minimum order sizes. In addition, an industrial plastic such as UHMW would be overkill for this application and would even have some undesirable characteristics, such as being very slick.

But our representative working on the application made an intuitive leap. We had access to a specialized HDPE material Redco “Play” board designed for playgrounds. In our world of sawmills, mines, and heavy construction this isn’t something we focus on! Nevertheless, Redco Play satisfied all the requirements of the application: it was green, UV-stable, impact-resistant, wear-resistant and had an “orange peel” textured surface so glasses wouldn’t slide around. They were supplied pre-cut into 24″ x 24″ x 1/2″ (thick) squares with a minimum order of 16. Terrapin quickly installed these and you can see a picture they sent us below. They have said they are very satisfied with the material and this application.

For assistance with your applications contact us today.

terrapin

 

 

Product Spotlight: Redco VHMW

While we’ve been able to supply VHMW for a few months now, only recently have we updated our website with a separate Redco VHMW section that can be found by clicking here. VHMW holds a new “middle ground” in the polyethylene family between HDPE and UHMWPE. Redco VHMW, which stands for “very high molecular weight”, can be substituted in applications where UHMW is considered to be “overkill”. The price on VHMW will be less than equivalent UHMW; however, only if you require several sheets of material. We do not currently stock VHMW and therefore freight costs, minimum orders, and small order fees may apply.

Compared to UHMW, VHMW has similar wear properties at a less expensive cost. It also has a better surface finish and is smoother than the typically skived UHMW sheet. Like UHMW, Redco VHMW performs very well in cold applications and is quite durable. It is also FDA and USDA approved for applications with food contact. Typical manufacturing tolerances on UHMW permit a (+-) 10% variance on sheet thickness; however, VHMW is manufactured with a variance of only 5%. The standard sheet size is 4′ x 8′ in 1/8″-1″ thick but custom sheet sizes are available on request.

For more information on Redco VHMW please contact 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.

The Top 3.5 Questions You’re Not Asking About Your Plastic

Upfront, we would like to say “you’re” is obviously referring to the public and some of our customers not all. Many customers for our industrial plastic have educated themselves in detail on the plastics they need to work with. However, some patterns have emerged over the years in questions we need to ask regarding key properties when RFQ’d by our customers, questions that need to be asked.

1.) What grade of plastic is required?

This is the big one. It is common for an application to be specified to us as “UHMW” or “nylon” when really that is not enough information. Most types of plastic have several grades with a variety of oil and fillers that do everything from making the plastic handle wear better to making it FDA/CFIA approved for food applications. The property differences can be large, and may have drawbacks on the natural grades too, therefore you will ensure a quicker quotation if you do your research upfront. Our website certainly has information on the different grades of plastic for each plastic type. If you’re unsure, supply as many details to us as possible: application environment? Is it outdoors? What chemicals are involved? The more information you give us, the more we can help!

2.) Does the plastic need to be UV-stable?

If there was a question we asked that got an “oh…Yeah…” response to us asking, it might be this one. The fact is that many plastics degrade quickly when exposed to UV light – the light of the sun. There are ways to UV-stabilize plastic and most of them can be stabilized but you cannot take that to mean permanent UV-resistance. That’s just not possible but what you can do is buy yourself time with UV-resistance, perhaps 6-10 years in many cases, and what this does is create a situation where the part is more likely to need replacement due to impact or wear before UV becomes an issue. The flip side of this coin is that customers sometimes request excessive UV-resistance which is simply not scientifically possible. If you’re wondering what “excessive” UV resistance on a plastic means think a guarantee of 10+ years.

3.) What is the lifetime cost of my application?

This is more for those new to the plastics industry. Coming from a world where plastic is common in consumer items, what we call “commodity” grade plastics, leads one to believe that industrial/engineering or “mechanical grade” plastic would be cheaper than metal. In many applications this is not the case, performance plastics are expensive to produce because quality mechanical plastic requires precise manufacturing techniques and very expensive equipment. Furthermore, plastic is heavy and often comes in large diameter bar or sheet stock in excess of eight feet in length and therefore with transportation costs that must be accounted for. This can create some “sticker shock” when a customer considers a switch to plastic for a bushing or part. However, you need to keep in mind that many plastics will vastly outwear and outlast metals often to the tune of 2-20x the life of metal. So perhaps the plastic bushing is three times the cost of a metal bushing but if it lasts five times as long are you not saving significant time and money?

A “honorable mention” to the questions above – the “.5 question” in the title would be in regards to certain popular plastics, such as HDPE and UHMW, not being dimensionally stable and suffering from thermal expansion or “creep” even at room temperature. Will thermal expansion or creep affect your design? In those cases where, for example, precise drilling of holes is required to match pre-drilling done on a substrate, it may be next than impossible to make those holes match unless installing in a controlled environment: thus requiring a redesign on the customer’s end. An easier way of doing this is simply having the customer drill the plastic.

For more information or help with your application contact us today.

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Food-Safe Plastics

Plastics have distinguished history in various food-processing industries from hobby farms, to large industrial freezers, to craft breweries. Keeping your eyes open as you tour these facilities it is hard finding areas where plastics do not have applications: wear plates, guide tracks, star wheels, bushings, conveyor lining…In fact, one brewery we know of has a bottle-filling tap embedded in a large, square block of white UHMW. One fairly recent development in food-safe plastics are blue acetal and blue UHMW. These plastics are pigmented in a way that they will easily show up if a piece breaks off and contaminates the food. Reason being? Very few foods in nature are blue.

While several plastics have applications in the food industry two stand out:

UHMW-PE or HDPE:

Polyethylenes are some of the most versatile plastics and could be potentially involved in virtually any part of the food-production cycle. Be it in harvesting machinery, to conveyors, to freezing storage areas. White (natural) polyethylene is the most common. In fact, UHMW is often called the “cryogenic plastic” as its properties increase in cold temperatures. Therefore it is the ideal plastic to use in sub-zero applications.

Acetal:

Acetal is an excellent plastic which often replaces nylon in applications with moisture as well as small, precise metal parts. Acetal machines beautifully and can hold tight tolerances. It was one of the first plastics widely marketed in a blue color.

For more information how plastics can reduce downtime and increase profits in your application please contact us.

blue_plastic

Phenolic Laminates – We’ll Handle Them, Hassle Free

Industrial (“phenolic”) laminates are an odd part of our plastic business – many machine shops and fabricators don’t even know we carry them. Often we find this is because laminates do not look or feel like traditional “plastic” so our customers don’t lump them together with other thermoplastics we sell such as UHMW, nylon, PTFE, HDPE, etc. However, not only can we supply industrial laminates in sheet/rod/tube but we can do the fabrication work for you.

Why should that matter?

If you’ve worked with industrial laminates before, especially the glass-filled types such as G10/FR4, G11, G7, etc…You know how tricky they are to work with. Unless cut and machined using very specific techniques, laminates will get very messy, very fast. Dust can float in the shop for days or even weeks, sticking to your equipment and other surfaces. More importantly, laminate dust and debris can be dangerous as machining the material releases chemicals such as formaldehyde. You do not want yourself or your employees breathing that in!

If you’re uncomfortable with that prospect – bring us your application and let us do the work for you. We can not only supply sheet/rod/tube cut to size, but we can quote your parts complete to your dimensioned drawings or samples. We have an excellent network of suppliers that will allow us to provide quality parts while saving you the hassle of working with the laminates. Take that time and work on your other projects, sound like a plan?

For your questions on our industrial laminates or the services we can provide please contact us.

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Un-Böring Borotron

Industrial plastics have a wide-variety of valuable and interesting applications. Resource-based industries receive a lot of due attention; however, plastics have their role in  industries such as medical and nuclear as well. Perhaps no product is a better example of this than Borotron.

Redco™ Borotron is a specialized derivative of HDPE or UHMW (though UHMW is often preferred) and involves some fascinating science. The high hydrogen content of the UHMW slows down dangerous “fast” neutron emissions, which become thermalized (stable). These particles are then trapped by the Boron additive, a naturally absorptive material of neutron particles.

Traditionally, concrete has been used for this application; however, Borotron is much lighter and easier to work with while providing similar benefits. Redco™ Borotron is available in three content grades: 1.5%, 3%, and 5% respectively.  

A key highlight of this product is that despite its Boron additives, this product is still UHMW. This means Redco™ Borotron is much more than a simple radiation absorption material: it has very low moisture absorption, high impact resistance, a low coefficient of friction, excellent mechanical properties and the other advantages that UHMW provides.

Current applications include:

  • Nuclear storage/waste/transport containers and building materials.
  • Particle accelerator shielding
  • Medical doors and shielding
  • And more

Therefore Redco™ Borotron is not only an excellent solution to neutron radiation issues but a great material to work with due to its remarkable UHMW properties.

Most Un-Böring.

For any questions on Redco™ Borotron or to get our team working on your application: contact us today.

E-MAIL: sales@redwoodplastics.com
CDN: 1 800 667 0999
USA: 1 866 733 2684