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Frequently Asked Questions...

About Plastics

General

No. We are not a supplier or distributor of plastic raw materials.

In general, Polycarbonate performs best for impact resistance. It is often used for things like protective shields, helmets, and other safety equipment.

Use Cole-Parmer’s online compatibility guide found here to check the compatibility of many common materials.

Yes. First, please take our online course about plastics found here. Then, if you need further help, contact us directly.

ABS

Yes, ABS is a thermoplastic so it is able to be recycled. Although, most curbside recycling programs do not accept ABS. ABS would be identified with a #9 recycling code.

Using sandpaper to smooth the part will help. Then multiple coats of a “filler” or “sandable” primer will fill some of the surface imperfections. Then the preferred color can be applied.

ABS bonds very well with most common instant super glues.

Polystyrene

The most well-known type of expanded polystyrene is Styrofoam.

PVC

BPA is sometimes used in softer PVC products like shower curtains, flexible hose, and wire insulation. BPA is not typically used in rigid PVC products like pipe, siding, and windows.

Polyethylene

Polyethylene is sometimes used in soaps and body washes in the form of tiny balls or beads. They are intended to give the perception of a more rigorous scrubbing action. However, the use of these beads is being phased out as they have been found to cause problems at the ecological level once the beads are washed away into the drain and end up in natural waterways. The beads have been found in wildlife, like fish and other aquatic creatures.

Polyethylene is typically identified with one of two recycling codes, #2 and #4. #2 is for High Density PE and #4 is for Low Density PE. Most recycling facilities will accept #2 plastics, but not all will accept #4 plastics. It is always best to check with your local facility.

Polyolefin materials like PE or PP have very low "surface energy" which makes them very difficult to bond to. There are methods that can increase surface energy like plasma treatment, corona treatment, and chemical primers.

Polypropylene

Polyolefin materials like PE or PP have very low "surface energy" which makes them very difficult to bond to. There are methods that can increase surface energy like plasma treatment, corona treatment, and chemical primers.

None of the major 3D printer manufacturers offer actual PP as a material. However, PP can be used on some low-end equipment with limited success.

Polypropylene is commonly recycled and is identified with the #5 recycling code.

Polycarbonate

PC can be severely impacted by UV exposure from sunlight. Typically, additives or coatings are required to help slow or prevent the degradation of the material.