Plastic is one of the most versatile materials on the planet. More and more, plastic is being used to fabricate parts that would usually be made from metal: here we look at some of the many advantages that plastic has when compared to metal.
- Cost – In the vast majority of cases, plastic manufacturing is far less costly than comparable metal production. The prices of various metals are in constant fluctuation around the world and shortages are common: neither of these issues affects plastic availability.
- Weight – Plastic components weigh far less than those made of metal yet can provide equal or even greater strength. This means that they are easier to work with and cost much less to ship.
- Strength. There is a huge number of plastic types that offer the same or greater tensile strength as compared to metals.
- Flexibility – Plastic offers a level of flexibility that cannot be matched by metal and thus delivers a vast array of design options. Creating complex shapes and features is much easier when using plastic: such features can be designed to be integral to the mould, keeping manufacturing times and costs to a minimum. Metal parts often require welding or assembly but using plastic instead can allow separate components to be manufactured as a single piece.
- Safety – Metal parts often have sharp edges that pose an injury risk and so plastic is a safer option.
- Durability – Plastic is a remarkably durable material. Generally, plastic will provide a longer service life than metal. Plastic parts suffer less wear and tear, meaning that repairs and replacements are dramatically reduced, which saves time and money.
- Recyclability – Plastics can be recycled at a much lower cost (both financially and in terms of environmental impact) than metals. Partwell Group works with Preston Plastics, one of the first UK firms that specialise in recycling plastic waste. The company has recently made huge investments in state of the art technology, boosting its recycling capacity by 80% and permitting up to 11,000 tonnes of plastic waste to be recycled every year.