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Plastics Material Selector

Use the filters on the right for adjustment || Sort columns by clicking symbol next to title || Email me if you notice a mistake!

The Details!

Words of caution...This is a tool I built using a self-compiled database of materials to quickly compare plastics. There is no guarantee of accuracy, and you should double check anything before serious use. As well, I've compiled generic data ranges and averaged them, as many of the polymers listed here have varying grades which can drastically affect their properties. If you find any mistakes, please send me an email so I can update the data to make the tool more accurate for everyone.

Very basic definitions for the material properties used in this chart below...

What is Density?

Density is mass per unit volume. A higher density material will weight more for the same physical shape compared to a lower density material.

Lead has a high density, foam has a low density.

What is Impact Strength?

Impact strength if the ability of a material to withstand sudden shocks and impacts. A higher impact strength means the material can withstand a larger shock/impact without breaking.

Rubber has a high impact strength, most ceramics have a low impact strength.

What is Young's Modulus?

Young's modulus is a measure of stiffness. A high Young's modulus means a material will be very stiff and a low Young's modulus means it will be very flexible.
Steel has a high Young's modulus, silicone has a low Young's modulus.

What is Tensile Strength?

Tensile strength is the resistance of a material to breaking under load. A high tensile strength material will be able to hold a much larger force (for the same cross sectional area) compared to a material with a low tensile strength.
Titanium has a high tensile strength, foam has a low tensile strength

What is Rockwell M?

Rockwell M is a measure of material hardness, or how well a material will resist indentation. I had to do some conversions to bring all the materials on this chart into the same Rockwell hardness category (there are many!).
Ceramics have high hardness, rubber has low hardness

What is Water Absorption Percentage?

Water absorption percentage is how much water, as a percentage of material weight will be absorbed into a material under ideal conditions in 24 hours.

Nylon has high water absorption, Polystyrene has low water absorption.

What is Minimum Temperature?

Minimum temperature is the lower working temperature limit for the material. Do not use the material in conditions colder than this. I'd be use this chart as an introduction guide, and look up the data sheet for the material you're using, as all sorts of properties begin to change(worsen) at low temperatures.

PTFE (Teflon) has an excellent minimum temperature, polyester has a poor minimum temperature 

What is Maximum Temperature?

Maximum temperature is the upper working temperature limit for the material. Do not use the material in conditions warmer than this. I'd be use this chart as an introduction guide, and look up the data sheet for the material you're using, as all sorts of properties begin to change (worsen) at high temperatures.

PTFE (Teflon) has an excellent maximum temperature, ABS has a poor maximum temperature 

What is Thermal Expansion?

Coefficient of thermal expansion describes how much a material will expand or contract with a change in temperature. Materials will grow as their temperature increases, and shrink as their temperature decreases.

Peek has a low thermal expansion, UHMW has a high thermal expansion