Plastic Prototyping: A Guide to Choosing the best material for your prototyping project

Plastic prototypes help transform a vision into reality and are very important for product development. Plastic prototyping uses a variety of plastic materials to make practical or visually appealing prototypes. The selection of materials is based on the project’s specific requirements, including strength, durability, aesthetics, and functionality.

 

Since different prototypes serve different purposes, manufacturers use different types of materials to make prototypes. This article explains some of the most commonly used materials and their application in plastic prototyping.  

 

The four most critical factors to consider in choosing the suitable material for plastic prototyping:

· Purpose and Function: the prototype’s intended purpose and function requirements are paramount; therefore, this factor should be the primary consideration.

· Mechanical Properties: a material’s strength, stiffness, and impact resistance are crucial mechanical properties to ensure the prototype can perform its intended function effectively and safely.

· Cost: balancing the performance and quality of the material with the available budget is crucial for an efficient prototype.  

· Compatibility with manufacturing procedures is essential, especially for projects where 

transitioning from prototyping to mass production is a consideration. We pay attention to the ease of scaling, the cost efficiency of each manufacturing process, quality control, lead time reduction, and reduced rework.

 

plastic prototyping

 

Some Common Materials used in plastic prototyping

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): ABS is known for its versatility, ease of machining, and good mechanical properties, it offers a smooth surface finish and is impact-resistant. ABS is suitable for visual models and functional parts. 

Polylactic Acid (PLA): A biodegradable and environmentally friendly material commonly used in 3D printing, PLA has lower heat resistance than other materials. It is widely used for prototyping crafts, educational models, and packaging.

Nylon (polyamides): is known for its strength, toughness, and abrasion resistance. This engineering plastic is often used in functional prototypes that require flexibility, including automotive parts, machinery components, bearings, seals, and more.

Polycarbonate (PC): This thermoplastic demonstrates a strong resilience to significant impact. Its toughness and impact resistance make it suitable for applications, including automotive parts, sports equipment, machinery components, and protective gear, where impact resistance is essential.

TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer): TPE materials are used to create prototypes for parts like gaskets, seals, and over-molded components that require elasticity and flexibility. 

Polyoxymethylene (POM): or acetal, is a plastic with a microstructure relatively close to crystalline. It gives it properties that resemble metals, making it ideal for a wide range of lightweight yet durable applications. POM is valued for its excellent strength and is often chosen for manufacturing components, including plastic pumps.

Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA): PMMA is also referred to as acrylic or plexiglass, is valued for its optical clarity thus, an ideal choice for clear or transparent prototypes; though it is lightweight and easy to machine, it can be brittle and less impact-resistant than other plastics. Moreover, it is renowned for its shatter-resistant properties, serving as a safer alternative to glass in applications like traffic lights and automobile lamps.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): is known for its chemical resistance and, thus, suitable for prototypes in contact with certain chemicals. It is widely used for plumbing and electrical applications

 

Where to get plastic prototyping services

When seeking plastic prototyping services, look no further than Sunray Precision Prototype. We are dedicated to maintaining our reputation as a leading professional plastic prototype manufacturer known for delivering cost-effective solutions. Our expertise encompasses the creation of prototypes for a wide range of products, including but not limited to earphones and TWS, VR and AR, audio equipment, watches and mobiles, computers, medical devices, and automotive components.

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