Budgetary Expectations And Lifecycle Cost

One of the most important topics that comes up in a plastic application are issues of cost, budget, and expectations. Most commonly the request we get is to provide a better better performing plastic at less cost. In the vast majority of situations, frankly, this is unreasonable. Plastics, like any quality product, generally follow the old cliche “you get what you pay for” and a better performing, longer-lasting, plastic will almost always cost more money. There are rare exceptions, for example everything being equal, reprocessed (“repro”) UHMW will actually outperform the slightly more expensive natural grade in wear applications specifically. However, these are very rare exceptions to the rule.

It is important to know your budget up front. If there is no ability to fund a higher priced solution you may simply need to make due. However, if you have room in your budget then we have some room to work. Most commonly, a premium grade of the same material would be suggested. For example, switching from reprocessed UHMW to Redco Titanium or Tivar 88. This is generally the first step to take as the premium product provides all of the properties of the lower grade, just much improved. For example, slicker, better wear properties, and UV resistance or weathering.

At times, the application may require a jump to a new plastic. For example, if a nylon part is failing due to being brittle in cold temperatures or moisture swell, then a switch to Redco Tuffkast may be in order. Similarly, most plastics cannot hold tight tolerances; however, acetal is perhaps the best at doing so and bears a similar load to nylon. Were a nylon part to fall out or be unable to retain tolerances, acetal would be an excellent substitute in most applications.

However, the most important point of all is this: selection of the optimal material for an application will almost always result in a lower lifecycle cost and therefore cost-savings. Reduced maintenance costs, replacement, and downtime, will all save the customer money in the long run. It is this critical factor which is often overlooked in the decision to switch to a premium grade of plastic or a more expensive, but ideal, plastic for an application!

For assistance in choosing the best grade or plastic for your application please contact us.

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New Product: Woodgrain HDPE

Redwood Plastics is happy to announce a new product offering* under our HDPE line: Redco Woodgrain HDPE. This attractive product is durable, UV-stable, tough, and easy to work with saws, drills, lathes, and other tools that would regularly be used for wood products. This product is optimized for outdoor use and will never require repainting. Highly weather-resistant, with fade resistant colorant (impregnated throughout the entire sheet), this product can take the impact of everyday life and will outlast wood.

Redco Woodgrain is currently available in a single sheet size and a single thickness: 4′ x 8′ x 3/4″ thick. Available colors are espresso brown, tan, and black. Custom thicknesses are available but only with a 5,000 lbs or greater minimum order. The attractive faux wood surface makes the product excellent for applications such as outdoor kitchens, tables, marine furniture, playground equipment, decking, or anything else you feel would be suited to a strong, weather-resistant, attractive replacement to wood.

This is a premium product and it will not be competitive on price alone when compared to the cost of wood. However, for the individual or organization that is looking for a product with a low life-cycle cost requiring very little maintenance, repainting, cleaning, or other labor, and wants a premium product then Redco Woodgrain HDPE offers an excellent solution.

To inquire about pricing or if you have questions on this product please contact us. 

*Please note the product is not currently stocked at our locations and will need to be brought in as required for orders. Typical lead time to land the product is 2 weeks. The minimum order is a single full sheet, it is not sold in smaller sizes or partials.

Coffee, Baseball, And Polycarbonate

Today we’re highlighting a recent application by our Spokane branch. Recently we were contacted by Dutch Bros. Coffee who has a location at Avista Stadium: home of the Spokane Indians baseball team. Dutch was looking for a clear plastic to protect their storefront signs and graphics. General-purpose polycarbonate was chosen for its excellent impact strength which will prevent breakage from anything from vandalism to accidental bumps. In addition, the polycarbonate is much more forgiving with drilling than acrylic – and several screws were tapped into the sheet. The polycarbonate was 3/16″ thick for this application. The picture below shows the completed application.

For help with your polycarbonate needs please get in touch with us.

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.

Product Spotlight: Redco Acetal

In the world of thermoplastics acetal (polyoxymethylene or POM) sometimes gets overlooked in applications as customers consider more well-known plastics such as UHMW, nylon, or PTFE. However, acetal offers excellent versatility, overall properties – all while being the most machinable thermoplastic. Unlike many other plastics, acetal is quite hard with a dense weight that reminds one more of a metal than a plastic.

Given this property, acetal can be used to replace precision machined acetal parts that were formally metal. Examples are gears, valves, and parts like the bolt in paintball markers. Acetal is often used as a nylon replacement in marine applications. This is because it can take similar load yet will not absorb water like the nylon will. But there is often no reason why you could not have specified acetal as a nylon replacement in the first place.

Where acetal really excels; however, is dimensional stability. It is one of, if not, the most dimensionally stable plastic. What this means is it can be machined to tighter tolerances than other plastics and will hold those tolerances better. In addition, it has excellent resistance to creep at normal operating temperature. If dimensional stability in an application is of top priority than acetal should be near the top of your list!

As with any plastic, acetal does have some concerns. They are attacked by strong acids and oxidizing agents so keep that in mind. Acetal comes in two common grades the homopolymer and copolymer, with the copolymer being better in hot air or water environments. Acetal is available in FDA approved grades, including metal and x-ray detectable grades. Acetal should not; however, be used with chlorine washdowns or cleaners. In that case PET should be selected as a substitute.

For answers to your questions about Redco Acetal please contact us.

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Tuffkast: The Problem Solver

Plastics solve problems and they can overcome issues that plague traditional materials such as metals and wood. But for the most part a plastic still has some weak spots that under certain situations can create a trade-off in properties: the optimal material but not perfect. Redco Tuffkast; however, is our material with the fewest weak points and therefore can solve problems that other plastics simply cannot.

Tuffkast is most commonly a replacement for nylon in areas where nylon suffers deficiencies: water absorption, impact, and low-temperature performance. In each case Tuffkast’s properties are superior to nylon: it absorbs much less water, is an excellent impact and low-temperature material. This means in applications where nylon is commonly used Tuffkast can be substituted, applications such as bearings and sheaves. To reduce the coefficient of friction, Tuffkast is available in both oil-filled and dry lubricant grades. Tuffkast has excellent wear abilities and impact resistance that is over double that of nylon.

Any drawbacks to Tuffkast are minimal. It does have a higher cost than many plastics of the engineering-grade tier but this is offset by its excellent performance. The higher coefficient of friction than materials it replaces (such as UHMW) needs to be considered but again, this can usually be offset by getting one of the lubricant filled grades. In general, Tuffkast is an extraordinarily versatile engineering plastic that is able to solve many problems other plastics simply cannot. For more information on Redco Tuffkast please contact us.

 

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