Choosing The Right Extrusion Material

Choosing the perfect material for a new extrusion project can be an intimidating task. Intek works closely with industry-leading material manufacturers to offer you many different thermoplastic compounds to meet your project’s needs. Before you get overwhelmed, we can help walk you through the decision process to find your best fit.

The first thing you need to consider are the requirements you expect from the part. Think about what this project requires of this part in terms of:

  • Design output / main function
  • Physical properties
  • Weathering
  • Compatibility with other materials
  • Cost

After you have nailed down the main requirements expected from your new part, consider other aspects that may affect your material choice by asking yourself questions like:

  • Is this part structural or strictly decorative?
  • Will this part be exposed to weathering?
  • What will the thermal environment be?
  • Will this part be exposed to chemicals?
  • Is high impact required of this part?
  • How complex is this part?
  • Is this part subject to long term stress?

Think you know the perfect material for your new part? Check out our materials options to find it now!

Need help deciding between two different materials? We put two of our most common materials, Rigid PVC and Flexible PVC, to the test against their most popular material competitors to help you determine the right material for your project.

Rigid PVC

Rigid PVC, or Polyvinyl Chloride, is a material that provides a good balance of stiffness, impact resistance, UV stability and inherent UL flame performance. These features explain why Rigid PVC is often considered “the workhorse of the extrusion industry.”

Pros

  • Cost effective
  • Processing ease
  • Good room temperature properties
  • UV stable grades
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Coextruded with many Flexibles: Flex PVC, Alcryn, Urethane

Cons

  • Poor cold temperature impact
  • Softens quickly at elevated temperature
  • Poor creep resistance
Now let's see how Rigid PVC stacks up against CPVC in Round 1…

Round 1

CPVC-vs-Rigid-PVC

CPVC, or Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride, offers high temperature performance, stiffness, impact resistance and inherent UL94 flame performance. CPVC is available in natural color and in pre-colored grey.

Pros of CPVC

  • Improved higher temperature performance
  • Coextrudable with Flex PVC (w/ tie layer) and Alcryn

Cons of CPVC

  • Typically needs a cap layer for UV protection
  • Reduced Izod impact strength
  • Higher cost

Round 2

Polycarbonate-vs-Rigid-PVC

Polycarbonate caters to projects that require stiffness, impact resistance, abrasion resistance, high and low temperature performance, and colorability. Polycarbonate is available as a natural colored or colorable compound.

Pros of Polycarbonate

  • Very good property retention at high temperatures
  • Outstanding creep resistance
  • Outstanding impact strength

Cons of Polycarbonate

  • More difficult to extrude
  • Susceptible to chemical attack
  • Higher cost
  • UV grades available, may color shift
  • More tolerance required

Round 3

Polypropylene-vs-Rigid-PVC

Polypropylene is a copolymer that delivers a good balance of strength, impact resistance, low temperature performance, and colorability. Polypropylene is available as a natural colored or colorable compound.

Pros of Polypropylene

  • Lower cost
  • Low coefficient of friction
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Coextrudable with Santoprene and other TPE’s

Cons of Polypropylene

  • Difficult to extrude in complex shapes
  • More tolerance required
  • Lower flexural modulus
  • Higher COE

Round 4

ABS-vs-Rigid-PVC

ABS, or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, provides stiffness, impact resistance, low temperature performance, and colorability. ABS is available as a natural colored or colorable compound.

Pros of ABS

  • Wider operating temperature range (high and low)
  • Better impact through temperature range
  • Comparable cost
  • ABS Pricing – Volatile

Cons of ABS

  • Low UV resistance
  • Requires cap layer in weathering applications
  • Typically higher COE
  • Not inherently flame retardant

Flexible PVC

Flexible PVC, Rigid PVC’s more malleable counterpart, may be the material for you. Flexible PVC effectively balances tensile strength, tear resistance and weatherability.

Pros of Flexible PVC

  • More cost effective
  • High tear strength
  • Good weatherability
Cons of Flexible PVC

  • Plasticizer migration can cause parts to stiffen / crack over time
  • Higher compression set
  • Plasticizer can attack materials/paints on adjacent parts
  • Poor cold temperature flexibility

Round 5

TPV-vs-Flexible-PVC

TPV, or Thermoplastic Vulcanizate, combines tensile strength, tear resistance, low temperature flexibility and weatherability. TPV is available as a natural colored or colorable compound.

Pros of TPV

  • Better compression set
  • Better long term property retention
  • No plasticizer migration
  • Good performance at low temperatures
  • Compatible with Polypropylene
Cons of TPV

  • Reduced tear strength
  • Does not coextrude with PVC
  • Higher cost

Round 6

TPA-vs-Flexible-PVC

TPA, or Thermoplastic Alloy, has a very low durometer compound, making it suitable for use in weatherstrips, gaskets and similar applications. This compound exhibits a very good compression set, elongation and low temperature properties. TPA is available as a natural colored, colorable, or a UV stabilized compound.

Pros of TPA

  • Corner sealing ability
  • Better compression set
  • Better long term property retention
  • Good performance at low temperatures
  • Compatible with Polypropylene
Cons of TPA

  • Higher cost
  • Reduced tear strength
  • Does not coextrude with PVC
Found a winner? Check out our material options to find it now or get your project started by requesting a quote today!