Material Selection Information
Polycarbonate: LEXAN, a tough thermoplastic, normally transparent, with high impact strength and high softening temperatures. It is most commonly used in film thicknesses under .040″ for switch overlays, decorative trim, product branding and integrated lense applications. In gauge thicknesses, this is the preferred material for lense applications and part constructions that require impact strength and durability. Polycarbonate is easily printed and/or fabricated.
Polyester: Dupont trade name MYLAR, a polymer film constructed of repeating units of an ester compound characterized by high strength, high temperature and chemical resistance. It is most commonly used for label construction when durability is a requirement. Clear and matte films are often utilized as overlaminates to protect label surfaces and/or first surface printing. Polyester has good printable characteristics and is fabricated easily in gauges below .010″. With laser cutting, it is a good candidate for prototype or pilot run projects.
Vinyl: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a polymer of vinyl chloride especially used for electrical insulation, film, and pipe. It is an inexpensive substrate with good conformability for curved and compound surface applications but has a low temperature, chemical and abrasion resistance. PVC is easily printed and/or fabricated and used extensively in the graphic industry for labels, fleet marking, window graphics and signage. The common industry term is “vinyl graphics”.
Polypropylene: An easily printed and/or fabricated thermoplastic constructed of propylene polymers used in the graphic industry as a cheap substitute for vinyl when conformability and durability are not required. It is used in sheet form as a filler or noncontributing member in a mechanical construction.
ABS: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, a tough rigid thermoplastic used in the automotive, building industry and graphic industry to make engravings plastics. It is commonly machined or injection molded to create shape and screen or pad printed to decorate or add information.
Polystyrene: A rigid thermoplastic polymer of styrene with good physical and electrical insulating properties. It is used in molded products, foams and sheet materials.
Acrylic: A glassy thermoplastic made of polymerized methacrylic acid used for cast or molded parts/sheets and applied in coatings and adhesives. It is printable, easily fabricated and suitable for lense applications where impact strength and toughness are not an issue. Cast acrylic sheets is laserable which makes it a desirable material for prototype development.
Aluminum: A bluish, silver-white, malleable, ductile, light, trivalent non-ferrous metallic element that has good electrical and thermal conductivity, high reflectivity, and corrosion resistance. With good formability, machinability and moderate strength for a lightweight material, it is commonly used for part construction. In graphic applications it is the most popular metal used for data plates, nameplates, serial plates as well as the base material for METALPHOTO.
Copper, Brass & Bronze: Often called the red metals, these non-ferrous materials are composed primarily of copper. Copper alloys contain a minimum copper content of 99.3% for shielding applications in conjunction with other materials. Brass is a copper alloy in which zinc is the main alloying element. Bronze is a copper alloy with a main alloying element other than zinc or nickel. These products are normally worked (typically called wrought) or cast into shape. Different alloys of these materials can be selected to attain excellent machinability, forming, weldability and fabrication quality. In the graphic applications, brass is primarily used in sheet form for brass nameplates that are printed, etched, and engraved.
Steel: Commercial iron with a carbon content up to 1.7% that is an essential alloying constituent and malleable in suitable conditions. Steel is the mainstay material of manufactured parts when coating, plating or painting is adequate protection from corrosion. It is used in graphic applications as structure for sign constructions and painted blanks as sign faces. Steel parts are printed, marked or added graphics to incorporate product identification.
Stainless Steel: An alloy of steel (iron) with at least 10% chromium and sometimes other elements (nickel or molybdenum) to make it extremely corrosion resistant. SS alloys are used in medical, food processing and handling industries as they maintain their corrosion resistance as high as 1600°F. Various alloys have added elements to give them different machinability, formability, and weldability. Graphics can be directly printed on fabricated parts or flat sheets. Etching and engraving are other marking methods for product identification on stainless steel.