Plastic Materials – What Material is Right for my Application?

An important consideration when manufacturing a thermoformed plastic part is the selection of appropriate material. There is a multitude of different types of plastic materials, each with their own specific characteristics, properties, strengths, and weaknesses. Proper selection of the appropriate plastic material for a specific application is an essential component in creating a successful plastic part.

PVC/Acrylic Application

PVC Acrylic Application


Below you will find some basic information on the different types of plastic available for use in thethermoforming process and some considerations that will help you determine the right plastic for the job.

Material Characteristics:
Here are some general physical characteristics that are used to describe the unique properties of each plastic material grade. The material you select will depend on the characteristics you and your project require.

  • Impact Strength – how much abuse can a material take before it breaks
  • Thermal Conductivity – the amount of heat that can be conducted through the material
  • Coefficient of Thermal Expansion – amount of expansion and contraction at a given temperature
  • Chemical Resistance – affect of chemical interaction
  • Stiffness (Flexural Modulus) – Rigidity of material
  • Heat Deflection – the temperature at which the material will distort
  • Hardness – material resistance to abrasion, chipping, and cracking
  • Flammability – extent to which a material will support combustion
  • Mold Shrinkage – amount of shrink after the plastic is removed from the mold
  • Forming Range – temperature range at which the plastic can be thermoformed
  • Tensile strength – Resistance to being pulled apart
  • Dielectric Strength – Electrical insulation

Material Selection Considerations:

When determining the right plastic for the job, consider some of the following questions:

What characteristics are most critical to my application?

Plastic Materials Chart 1

Plastic Materials Chart 2


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Find additional material considerations and other information on selecting the right plastic part for your application, please visit the Plastic Material  page on our website.

Note – The information provided on this page is only basic and generalized. It is only intended to give you a brief overview of some of the plastic material options available and assist in identifying the appropriate material for your project. The content should be used as reference only.

Please contact us for assistance in moving your project forward.

Feedback and your ideas are always appreciated.

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