How to Select Military Approved Plastics

LAV-300x300Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Plastic materials for military applications must be able to withstand demanding conditions. Whether at land, air, or sea (and even space), part failure is not an option. For technical designers and buyers alike, supporting the mission means choosing the right materials.

Do you need military approved plastics that can withstand the high temperatures of desert battlefields? What about polymers that provide not just water resistance, but resistance to saltwater at low temperatures? How about specialty plastics that can withstand the g-forces encountered during air support sorties?

Understanding application requirements is important, but compound selection can also mean picking polymers that are approved specifically for military use. So how can you determine what you need? And how can choosing the right partner strengthen your supply chain?

The Acrylic Glass Example

Poly(methyl methacrylate) or PMMA is an acrylic glass that’s better known by brand names such as Plexiglas®. Strong and lightweight, this versatile plastic is typically opaque or clear. PMMA weighs only about half as much as regular glass, but has considerably greater impact strength.

Unlike other plastic materials, Plexiglas can be manufactured to impart light-transmitting, light-focusing, or light-diffusing properties. In addition to offering resistance to ultraviolet (UV) rays, this synthetic polymer can reflect noise, provide heat shielding or heat insulation, and resist scratching.

Production and repair personnel like working with Plexiglas because it’s tough enough to withstand handling and installation, and can be sawed, routed, and polished to meet application requirements. This PMMA is also desirable because it burns with little smoke and doesn’t form acutely toxic gases.

Military Specifications and Material Testing

Do the material properties of PMMAs make them right for every military application? It’s not that simple. For buyers who work with organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), there are published military specifications to consider. (Typically, however, Plexiglas parts are used in aircraft cabin windows, instrument panels, canopies, wingtip camera lenses, and outer laminates.)

Although these specialty acrylic materials are available in a range of sizes and thicknesses, buyers need to choose plastic products that meet military specifications such as MIL-PRF-5425E. What do military standards like this mean, and why are they so important?

In the case of MIL-PRF-5425E, this military standard covers material properties such as optical quality, transparency, and heat resistance. In turn, MIL-PRF-5425E incorporates 10 different test methods from the American Society and Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Typically, supplier websites and data sheets indicate whether a particular plastic meets various ASTM standards. By working with a supply chain partner who can help you with material selection, however, you can simplify the task of sourcing military-approved plastics.

U.S. DOD standards aren’t the only military specifications in the world, of course. For example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) publishes standardization agreements (STANAG) that establish common requirements for equipment and materials among member nations.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) also publishes standards for security applications. UL 752 defines nine protection levels, each for a specific type of ammunition. For example, a Level 1 UL rating is for a 9-mm full metal copper jacket with a lead core. UL’s supplementary shotgun level is for 12-gauge shotguns.

To select the right military-approved plastics then, you’ll need to understand application requirements, know which standards apply, and also consider program budgets. With regard to costs, consider the case of mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles that U.S. forces use in Afghanistan.

These military vehicles feature windshields made of an expensive ballistic glass, but it was a specialty laminate that captured headlines several years ago. According to an estimate from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), using a tear-away film could help limit windshield replacements and save the Pentagon as much as $75 million annually.

How Can We Help You?

Do you need help with sourcing military-approved plastics? Are you looking for assistance with technical designs or custom-fabrication? For more information, please contact us or request a quote.

Join the conversation on our social media sites, too. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy also has a YouTube channel.

Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.

Coated Fabrics for Sealing and Insulation

Coated Fabrics
Coated Fabrics

Building Coated Materials into Sandwich-Like Composite Structures

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Elasto Proxy uses coated fabrics and provides fabric coating services for acoustic insulation and water-repellent materials. Coated fabrics are covered or treated with liquid rubber or plastic to impart specific properties such as sound dampening or water resistance. Elasto Proxy then uses these coated materials to custom-fabricate sealing or insulation solutions that meet all of your application requirements.

Many different types of coated fabrics are available. Choices include thermoplastic polyolefins such as polyethyelene (PE), elastomers such as ethylene propylene rubber (EPR), and nylon materials such as aramids. Nylon, a generic name for a large family of synthetic polymers, can be coated with urethane for increased toughness and abrasion resistance.

Thermal Insulation, Acoustic Insulation, and Vibration Dampening

By listening to your requirements and applying our technical knowledge, Elasto Proxy can recommend the right coated fabrics for use with thermal insulation, acoustic insulation, and/or vibration dampening. With our in-depth application experience, we can also help with the design of composites materials that have a complex, sandwich-like structure.

Typically, these sandwich-like composites consist of foams, fillers or barrier materials, and adhesives. The materials that are used in each layer help determine the composite’s overall properties. Each layer also performs one or more functions. For example, insulation may include one or more layers of coated fabrics that provide sound-blocking and vibration-blocking properties.

Water-Repellent Materials

Coated fabrics can form the outer layers of a sandwich-like composite, or serve as internal layers. With outdoor applications that require water resistance, coated fabrics with water-repellent properties can be used to prevent the ingress of rainwater, and to protect acoustic foams. By coating the right fabrics and building quality sandwich-like structures, Elasto Proxy strengthens your overall product design.

Ask our solutions providers for more information about how we use coated fabrics at our Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada facility, and how we also offer fabric coating services. In addition to helping you with material selection, Elasto Proxy can recommend the right type of adhesive tape to use with multi-layer composite materials.

How Can We Help You?

Do you need to source coated fabrics for sealing and insulation? How can we help you? For more information, please contact us or request a quote. Join the conversation on our social media sites as well. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy also has a YouTube channel, too.

Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.

Why Choose Plastic Parts for Medical Applications

Visit Elasto Proxy - MED Event

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Did you know that some plastic parts can be as strong as metal ones? For years, the automotive and aerospace industries have been replacing metal products with plastic components. Driven by demands to reduce weight and improve fuel economy, manufacturers are adopting engineered plastics that can achieve the same tight tolerances – and with fewer secondary operations.

With the proper design and compound selection, plastic parts can provide much more than high tensile strength and corrosion resistance. Because plastic injection molding allows for undercuts, threads, and ports, product designers can create complex shapes to finish-level specifications. Specialty polymers can also provide thermal or electrical conductivity, or shielding against electromagnetic interference (EMI).

In some industries, demand for increased resistance to chemicals and heat are powering a metal-to-plastic conversion. In other industries, such as medical equipment and healthcare, cost reduction and compliance with regulatory standards are key factors. It’s not just that plastic parts cost less to produce, assemble, and ship. Engineered polymers offer numerous advantages.

Supply Chain Strength

When a leading manufacturer of hospital beds wanted to reduce costs, the company replaced metal parts with plastic ones and strengthened the entire supply chain. Elasto Proxy sourced solutions that saved the manufacturer money while ensuring on-time deliveries. Today, we supply injection-molded plastic parts made from as many as 18 different molds for each hospital bed.

These components are not especially complex, but the savings on tooling is significant. Elasto Proxy’s logistical capabilities and commitment to quality help, too.  Instead of paying for a year’s worth of plastic parts all at one time, the hospital bed manufacturer can order quantities several times a year. To ensure part quality, we inspect the components carefully and verify that they meet all requirements.

Molded Plastic Parts for Hospital BedsMolded Plastic Parts for Hospital Beds

The pedal pads on the hospital beds are made of strong but lightweight ABS plastic. Thanks to Pantone coloring matching, the pedal pad that unlocks the hospital bed is colored green for “go”.  To help patients distinguish pedal functions, the part that helps brings the bed to a stop is colored red. Both of these cost-effective, foot-driven components are designed to withstand numerous cycles.

Elasto Proxy also supplies the hospital bed manufacturer with Delrin® rollers that can support patients weighing up to 300 lbs.  An engineered thermoplastic, polyoxymethylene (POM) provides high stiffness, low friction, and excellent dimensional stability. With Pantone color matching, these economical plastic rollers are colored gray to match the expensive metal that’s used on the hospital beds.
In addition to pedal pads and bed rollers, Elasto Proxy supplies the hospital bed manufacturer with plastic parts that slide over metal edges, and bed-mounted holders for patients and medical staff to use. By replacing metal parts with engineered polymers, the manufacturer is reducing costs, ensuring quality, and meeting the needs of its customers.

Visit the IHS GlobalSpec Virtual Event and Join the Conversation

For more information about how Elasto Proxy supports the medical industry, visit our booth at IHS GlobalSpec’s Medical Equipment Design and Online Conference & Trade Show on May 21, 2014. This free on-line event lets you learn about medical-grade materials, products, and much more from the convenience of your desktop. Register now to attend, or preview this video for more information.

Even if you can’t attend this virtual event, I hope you’ll comment on this blog entry. Look for a link to it on all of Elasto Proxy’s social media channels: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. I hope you’ll subscribeto our e-newsletters, too. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and provide links to blog entries like this one.

Rubber Bumpers for Shock Absorption, Stopping, Safety, and Illumination

Light-Up Bumpers

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Elasto Proxy designs and custom-fabricates elastomeric bumpers with metal inserts, LED lights, and other features for a wide range of applications.  These high-quality, low-to-medium volume industrial rubber products are designed to absorb energy and can withstand exposure to wind, water, chemicals, abrasion, ultraviolet (UV) light, and other environmental conditions.

How to Select Bumpers

Elastomer bumpers are made of rubber materials such as EPDM, nitrile, neoprene, SBR, and silicone. Industrial bumpers made of thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) and polyurethane (PUR) also available. When specifying bumpers, stoppers, or bumper feet, remember to consider all of your application requirements. Compound selection, material hardness, and seal shape are also important.

Compound selection helps determine a rubber bumper’s material properties. For example, EPDM bumpers provide excellent ozone and chemical resistance, but offer relatively poor resistance to petroleum-based fluids. Nitrile bumpers feature excellent resistance to petroleum products, but have poor ozone and weather resistance.

Durometer or duro, a measure of hardness, is also an important specification since materials like EPDM are available in both sponge profiles and solid profiles. Solid rubber is harder and more resistant to compression than sponge rubber, but not all solid rubber is the same. For example, solid profiles at 40 duro have the consistency of pencil erasers. At 90 duro, they are hard like hockey pucks.

Rubber bumpers come in different shapes. Choices include cylindrical, hemisphere, square, cone, and recessed. Like compound selection and hardness, shape affects compression resistance, an essential consideration in bumper applications where cushioning and the ability to resist permanent deformation are essential.

Light-Up Rubber Bumpers

Elasto Proxy also suppliers light-up rubber bumpers that resist water and UV rays over a wide range of temperatures. Equipped with long-lasting, energy-efficient LED lights, these elastomeric fenders are designed to illuminate the location of pontoons, quays, embankments, and docks while protecting marine structures against impact by boats and ships.

With an estimated life of 3 to 5 years, these water-resistant rubber products are 100% recyclable and feature integrated, low power-consumption, 24-V LEDs. The lights can be connected to a power source via cables or distributors. Light-up elastomer bumpers come in standard lengths of 5-m, weigh 5-kg/m, and are designed for temperatures ranging from -40° C to 90° C.

Potential, additional applications for illuminated rubber fenders include healthcare, construction, and industrial environments. In hospital corridors, for example, light-up rubber bumpers could serve as rub rails that help protect patients, personnel, and medical equipment. Light-up elastomeric fenders could also signal the location of edges and railings on oil-refinery catwalks and construction scaffolding.

How Can We Help You?

Do you need to source bumpers for shock absorption, stopping, safety, or signaling? How can we help you? For more information, please contact us or request a quote. Join the conversation on our social media sites as well. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy also has a YouTube channel, too.

Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.