The Different Types Of Engineering Plastics Explained

one of the different types of engineering plastics

Analysts expect the engineering plastics market to grow by more than 7.43% over the next five years, but should you choose an engineering plastic for your plastic needs? If so, which plastic gives you the best results?

Learn more about the benefits of these materials. Then find out about some of the different types of engineering plastics to choose the best one for your project.

Why Choose an Engineering Plastic?

Many engineering plastics withstand conditions that commodity plastics can’t handle. They have better mechanical strength and thermal resistance. Engineering plastic materials can perform in environments with mechanical stress, changing temperatures, and harsh conditions.

Engineering plastics are thermoplastic polymer resins. They can replace materials like wood and metal. They’re more economical and easier to manufacture. You get excellent machinability and good dimensional stability. You can also hold tight tolerances and complex geometries.


ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a highly machinable opaque plastic. It’s extremely tough. It has a high impact strength, tensile strength, and stiffness. ABS is resistant to gamma rays and x-rays and resists most chemicals as well.

Acetal (POM)

Acetal is the more common name for polyoxymethylene plastic (POM). It’s a semi-crystalline plastic. It doesn’t expand from exposure to heat or moisture and has low moisture absorption. Acetal is highly wear-resistant, and other benefits include excellent mechanical strength and rigidity. Acetal maintains its creep resistance, impact strength, and machinability at low temperatures.


Clear acrylic has outstanding optical clarity with more durability than glass. Over time, it maintains clarity and has better weathering properties than many other transparent plastics. Acrylic has excellent strength and stiffness. It bonds well with adhesives and solvents.


Nylon is the common name for polyamide plastic (PA). Nylon is one of the most popular engineering plastic materials. Nylon has a good coefficient of friction and resists wear. It can reduce weight, noise, and wear when replacing metal components. Under normal conditions, nylon has self-lubricating properties. Nylon has excellent temperature and impact properties. It also resists chemicals and oil and has high thermal stability.


PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) is one of the most rigid engineering plastics. It’s a crystalline polymer. PBT has excellent thermal deformation resistance, strength, and dimensional stability. It has a low creep tendency. PBT has excellent wear resistance. It will resist caustic cleaning agents and has a low moisture absorption rate. It has incredible impact strength, even at lower temperatures.


PEEK (polyetheretherketone) is a highly machinable, semi-crystalline thermoplastic. It’s robust and stiff, and it resists shattering. PEEK will withstand high-temperature environments. It resists creeping. PEEK is highly durable and wear-resistant, even in severe service conditions. It has excellent chemical resistance and low flammability.


PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is a lightweight, clear plastic. It’s one of the most common thermoplastic polymer resins. When used for fiber or fabric applications, PET is called polyester. PET has high rigidity and strength. It has low moisture absorption and resists chemicals, including acids. Its creep resistance and hydrolysis resistance are excellent even at higher temperatures.


Polycarbonate is a lightweight thermoplastic that can be transparent or colored. It’s stronger than acrylic. Polycarbonate is fire-resistant and resists impact. Another benefit of polycarbonate is its ability to withstand hot and cold temperatures.


Polyethylene (PE) is a lightweight and adaptive thermoplastic. It has high impact strength and low moisture absorption.

PE is available in several different grades, including:

  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE)

Each type has other properties.


LDPE is very flexible and has low moisture absorption. It has high impact strength at low temperatures.


HDPE has a higher tensile strength compared to other forms of polyethylene. It has excellent electrical insulating properties and moisture resistance. HDPE also has high resistance against chemicals like basic solvents, greases, and acids. HDPE is very smooth and anti-adhesive.


UHMWPE is highly durable and highly wear-resistant. It has strong chemical resistance, and it doesn’t absorb moisture. UHMWPE has a very low coefficient of friction and is self-lubricating. It can handle high operating temperatures.


PPO (polyphenylene oxide) is a strong thermoplastic material with a good balance of thermal, electrical, and mechanical properties. PPO has a higher resistance to heat deformation than many other engineering plastics. It can handle a wide temperature range. The high heat resistance of PPO gives it good creep resistance as well. PPO resists weathering. It’s resistant to a wide range of chemicals, including acids, bases, alkalis, and many salt solutions and cleaning agents. PPO has one of the lowest water absorption rates of all engineering plastics.


PPS (polyphenylene sulfide) is a semi-crystalline thermoplastic. It has excellent dimensional stability even in high temperatures and high humidity applications. PPS has a high melting point and is flame-resistant. It also offers excellent electrical insulation properties. PPS has high strength and rigidity. It has good chemical resistance and water resistance.


Ultem is a brand name for polyetherimide (PEI). It’s a semi-transparent thermoplastic material. Polyetherimide has one of the highest dielectric strengths of all thermoplastics. It can handle high service temperature environments and resists hot water and steam. Ultem is robust and stiff. It’s easy to machine.

The Advantages of Engineering Plastics

Engineering plastics are synthetic materials that are specifically designed to exhibit superior mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties compared to traditional plastics. These materials are commonly used in various industries, such as automotive, electronics, aerospace, and medical, due to their unique properties that provide significant advantages over other materials. 

High Strength and Durability

Engineering plastics are renowned for their high strength and durability, making them ideal for applications that require high load-bearing capacity and resistance to wear and tear. These materials can also withstand heavy loads and harsh environments, making them ideal for use in industrial and automotive applications, such as gears, bearings, and conveyor belts. Unlike traditional plastics, engineering plastics do not break or deform easily, even under extreme conditions, such as high temperatures or exposure to chemicals.


Despite their high strength and durability, engineering plastics are significantly lighter than metals, making them ideal for applications that require lightweight materials. These materials are used in various industries, such as aerospace and automotive, where reducing weight is critical for improving efficiency. For instance, engineering plastics are commonly used to manufacture components such as engine parts in the automotive industry.

Resistance to Chemicals and Corrosion

Engineering plastics have excellent resistance to chemicals and corrosion, making them ideal for use in harsh environments. Unlike traditional plastics, which can degrade or react with chemicals and solvents, engineering plastics can withstand exposure to harsh chemicals, acids, and alkalis. These materials are commonly used in the chemical processing industry, where they are used to manufacture pipes, tanks, and valves.

Temperature Resistance

Engineering plastics have excellent temperature resistance, making them ideal for use in applications that require high-temperature performance. These materials can withstand high temperatures, up to 300°C, without losing their mechanical properties or deforming. This property makes them ideal for use in the aerospace and electronics industries, where they are used to manufacture components, such as aircraft interiors, electronic enclosures, and LED lighting.

Design Flexibility

Engineering plastics offer excellent design flexibility, making them ideal for use in applications that require complex shapes and features. Unlike traditional plastics, which are limited in terms of design, engineering plastics can be molded into various shapes and sizes, making them ideal for use in the medical industry, where they are used to manufacture prosthetics, surgical instruments, and medical devices.

Getting the Most from Different Types of Engineering Plastics

Engineering plastics offer significant advantages over traditional plastics and other materials, including high strength and durability, resistance to chemicals and corrosion, temperature resistance, and design flexibility. These properties make them ideal for use in various industries, such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, and medical. With ongoing advancements in technology, engineering plastics are likely to continue playing a significant role in shaping the future of manufacturing and design.

With all the different types of engineering plastics available, you’re sure to find one that fits your application. To get the most from the materials, you need the proper manufacturer. Precision fabrication will help ensure your components perform the way you expect.

Severna has been a leading manufacturer of precision plastic components since the early 1950s. We can machine a wide range of engineering plastics and our large inventory of materials means you get a fast turnaround.

Request a quote today and see how we can help you get the most from your plastic components.


David Taylor Digital | Digital Marketing Agency