Metal fabrication has been in practice in one form or another for centuries; blacksmithing, for example, has always involved fabrication. Metal does have a number of benefits for many industries, including very high heat resistance, endurance, and versatility. As technology advances, plastic fabrication is providing an alternative to metal. Is it a viable alternative? What advantages does plastic offer your company that metal does not?


Over the past 50 years the plastics industry has grown; instead of the availability of a single type of plastic, there are literally thousands to choose from. Metallic components have been the staple material for all industries for many years, but with the increased knowledge of polymers, companies are now offering plastics with specialized purposes to replace the use of metals, and it’s little wonder why. Plastics have a lot to offer. There are plastics that offer strength comparable to alloys while offering characteristics such as self lubrication, wear resistance, reduced weight and chemical resistance, which metals cannot offer.Plastics may not be able to replace every metallic component, but they have both their place and their roles, which are growing every day. Historically, plastics have been more difficult to machine to the tight tolerances achieved with metallics, but with increased knowledge of plastics and the improved capabilities of machining equipment, the industry is now capable of producing plastic components to the same exacting standards as metallic components.Depending on the industry, plastics can also provide the benefit of reduced weight. This is crucial for a manufacturer of aircraft parts, for instance, decreased weight means increased fuel efficiency. This has lead to manufacturers transitioning from aluminum and steel to plastic and composites.

Here are some other benefits of plastics to consider:

  • They are less sensitive to weather than metal, resisting corrosion and rust. In addition, additives can be introduced to protect the pieces from damaging UV rays.
  • Plastics are resistance to many more chemical compounds. This opens up the options for use in solution tanks.
  • Plastics can be designed for resist impact and dents, making it durable, strong, and stable.
  • Plastics have tighter tolerances.
Drawback From Plastic Fabrication

Are there any drawbacks to fabrication with plastics?  Possibly, depending on the materials you choose, they could be more vulnerable to elevated temperatures or be structurally inappropriate for high stress components, including heavy equipment and building materials.

For precision, however, plastic is ideal. Machined plastic is often used when accuracy is most needed, such as in the medical and aerospace industries. Whether you require light weight, fuel efficiency, or intricacy, plastic is an excellent choice.

Want to use a plastic material for your machined part? Contact our material experts today.