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Can someone help me with plastics? Answered

I'm making a project and I dont know what plastic I should use. I need it to be painted, kinda pretty, and durable. It will not be out in the sun. It will only take its own weight. The measurements are 24'' x 18'' + 24'' x 18'' ( there are two pieces) .There will be hinges screwed to the plastic to hold together the 2 pieces. It also needs to be in sheets (there is no problem getting this, I just wanted to let you know). What choice would you choose? These are some of the plastics they sell in my local plastic shop (I would like to use one of these):




Best Answer 7 years ago

If you want a really good material to work with look for alucobond or dibond. It is a sheet of polyethylene sandwiched between 2 very thin sheets (0.3 mm) of aluminium.

It is light, extremely strong, heatresistant, fire slowing.  Holes are drilled very easely. You can also cnc mill it very easely.

It is used for road and shopsigns and as the outerskin for buildings and skyscrapers. It has a lifespan of 50years + outside and 100 years+ inside.

I use it from time to time and I love it. Mind you, it is expensive! 

Delrin and Teflon are going to be VERY difficult to paint. Polycarbonate and Acrylic need to be thick to hold screws because they are brittle. Polyethylene, Polypropylene and nylon are going to need special paints-Krylon has some plastic-specific paints that stick better (the regular paints will scratch off almost immediately).

All of the plastics you list will be durable in suitable thickness's. ABS and Polycarb are perhaps the easiest to use, cut, bend etc. Polypropylene is the most durable BUT you could have issues with painting unless you use the correct primer.

Actually your plastic supplier is the best person to talk to - that's what they do!.

As an addendum there are few tasks that use plastic at the hobby level that can not be done with ply woo or similar. The wood is MUCH more eco friendly as well and almost certainly as durable and cheaper.

Acrylic or polycarbonate, the rest don't sound good, esp Teflon.


There isn't really enough info in your question to answer it properly, as we would need to know things like; will it be outside (UV-resistant), will it take weight (thickness), will it be bonded with other materials and so on. By and large you can get paints to go on to most plastics although I seem to remember that polyethylene is the more difficult to work with. As for the cheapest, I would suggest a simple search near your local suppliers or online if delivery fees are not unreasonable - I don't think you can say that they have an order in price.

Form factor also affects price; depending on the size you need some are easier to find than others.

You really do need to be more specific about what you need this plastic piece to be able to do.

I have updated it. Your help is making me realize that I should put more detail into it, thanks. If you have any more questions just leave a comment.