What are the 7 Best UV Resistant Plastics?
When choosing the right plastic material for your applications, there are many things that need to be considered. Let’s talk about selecting UV-resistant plastics and why it is so important. UV resistant material is a must for various outdoor applications such as marine dock fenders, mass transportation interiors, architectural glazing, etc.
UV radiation can be very harmful to a plastic product and cause degradation. Luckily, there are several UV-resistant plastic materials available out there that make our job relatively easy.
Without further ado, let’s start our list of the best UV resistant plastic materials:
Top UV Resistant Plastics –
- Polyphenylene Sulfide
- Polyvinylidene fluoride
Acrylic is the most notable material used in outdoor applications for UV resistance. Also called PMMA (Polymethyl methacrylate), it is a transparent thermoplastic material better known by its chemical name “plexiglass.” In addition to being UV resistant, acrylic also possesses high rigidity, excellent strength, and optical clarity. The UV-resistant clear material has many similarities with polycarbonate and is also used as a replacement for glass.
The most popular applications for acrylic are light fixtures, retail displays, decorative panels, outdoor signage, reflectors, and colored lenses. The material is somewhat brittle, so it’s not ideal for applications where high pressure or heavy impacts are involved.
A more durable, rigid, and impact-resistant alternative to acrylic is polycarbonate, known for its industry-leading impact strength. It is 200 times stronger than glass and also has decent transparency and clarity. It exhibits excellent UV-resistant capabilities along with toughness making it immune to harsher situations and extreme temperatures.
The material is more expensive than acrylic, but it’s a good option for heavy load and high-pressure applications that acrylic wouldn’t be able to handle.
Polycarbonate is suitable for heavy-duty applications such as shatterproof sunglasses and helmets, bulletproof glasses, face shields, safety windows, and containers. Some prominent applications in the medical field include thermometers, syringes, surgical instruments, blood filters, blood storing products, drug delivery, drug strong and delivering systems.
Interesting Read – Antistatic vs. Static Dissipative Plastics | Which One to Choose?
Another UV-resistant material with also good resistance to light and weathering. PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene is a high-performance fluoropolymer made from carbon and fluorine atoms. It also exhibits a low coefficient of friction, flexibility, good fatigue resistance, low water absorption, strong anti-adhesion properties, exceptional chemical resistance, Low dielectric constant/dissipation factor.
The PTFE applications can be found in engineering, Chemical, Medical, automotive, electronics, and electrical. The material is utilized to make seats & plugs, bearings, non-stick surfaces, fittings, valve & pump parts, pumps, diaphragms, impellers, autoclaves, reaction vessels, containers, ligament replacements, heart patches, cardiovascular grafts, electrical insulation, semiconductor parts, valve stem seals, shaft seals, linings for fuel hoses, gaskets, O-rings, etc.
HDPE or High-density polyethylene comes from the ethylene family, and apart from having good UV resistance, it is also known for low cost, good impact strength, high melting point, and great tensile strength. It is created by exposing petroleum to extreme heat and pressure. It is one of the most manufacturers friendly thermoplastics out there, thanks to its easy machinability and low cost.
HDPE’s easy moldability, toughness, and low cost make it ideal for packaging applications like jerry cans, drums, fruit juices, crates, bottles, industrial bulk containers, etc. It is also utilized for consumer goods applications like kitchen-wares, ice trays, food packaging, dustbins, etc.
Other significant applications include industrial uses, cable protection, large inspection chambers, gas, water, sea downspout, several applications in the automotive industry, telecommunications cables, and pipes & fittings.
Polyetherimide or PEI is another UV-resistant plastic generally used in industrial and mechanical applications. The high-performance plastic material exhibits high tensile strength, superior heat resistance, chemical stability, outstanding mechanical and electrical properties, flexibility, rigidity, exceptional dimensional stability, high deflection temperature (200°C at 264 psi), and flexural modulus (480,000 psi).
It can be manufactured as both transparent and translucent material. PEI is mainly used in automotive, industrial, mechanical and medical applications. The material excels in heavy-duty industrial applications experiencing extreme temperatures and repetitive pressure.
The common PEI applications are automotive and aerospace parts, electrical components and covers, heat shields, temperature sensors, and engine components.
Polyphenylene sulfide or PPS is semicrystalline high-temprature UV resistant material known for its opacity and rigidness at a high melting point (280°C). Yes, it exhibits excellent flame and heat resistance; apart from that, it also has exceptional mechanical strength, dimensional stability, good chemical resistance, and good electrical insulating properties.
The crystalline structure of the plastic makes it strong and durable but also limits it to darker colors. PPS is brittle in nature but blends seamlessly with fibers and fillers to enhance its toughness.
PPS applications can be found in verticals like industrial, automotive, electronics and electrical, appliances, and medical and healthcare. For the automotive sector, under-the-hood applications are more prevalent – thermostat holders, water pump impellers, coolant systems, fuel injection systems, electric brakes, switches, bulb housing, and so on.
Polyvinylidene fluoride or PVDF is a mainstream plastic material that gained significant popularity in the last decade. The interest it received is all thanks to its strongest piezoelectric properties compared to any other commercial polymer. But it also shows great promise for UV resistance, with high mechanical strength, exceptional chemical resistance, and good chemical resistance.
Because of the higher cost associated with PVDF, it is often combined with other cheaper plastics or applied as a thin coating or laminate to enhance metals’ chemical resistance and weatherability like aluminum and galvanized steel.
PVDF is heavily utilized in aircraft, architectural coatings, electronics, and the chemicals industry. The most prominent applications include bearings, pump parts, resistant valves, and heat-shrinkable tubing.
1. Does UV radiation damage plastic?
Ans. UV radiation can cause a detrimental effect on the plastic part. It can cause a photochemical effect within the polymer structure. Absorbed UV energy can disturb the photons within the plastic and create free radicals that can cause breaks in the polymer bonds.
2. What makes a plastic material UV resistant?
Ans. Blending the material with a UV stabilizer is the best option. UV stabilizers work by absorbing or screening out UV radiation and preventing damage.
3. What color is most UV resistant?
Ans. plastic with darker colors will remain the most UV resistant. PPS (Polyphenylene Sulfide) is a great example of a plastic material being protected by UV rays, and one of the main reasons for that is the natural dark color.
4. How long does it take for UV light to break down plastic?
Ans. Plastic will be decomposed by UV radiation. And it will take two years to more than 1 million years to decompose it.
5. Is Nylon UV resistant?
Ans. No. But it exhibits excellent wear resistance and good electrical insulating properties.
Suggested Read –
- Top 10 High Impact Resistant Plastics
- Mold Temperature in Plastics | A Complete Analysis
- What are the Top 5 High Tensile Strength Plastics?
- Food Grade Plastic: The Best Plastics for Food Applications
- Top 5 Heat Resistant Plastic Materials | A List of High Temp Plastic Materials
- What is a Plastic Pallet? | The Definitive Guide
- Plastic Abbreviations and Their Salient Features | The Ultimate Guide
- Top 10 Injection Molding Defects (And How To Prevent Them)
Final Thoughts –
That was all I had to say for the best UV-resistant plastics compatible with your outdoor applications. Tackling UV radiation is a must to save the integrity of the product. UV rays have the ability to damage the molecular chain in a material, breaking apart the molecules and hampering their structural integrity. Thus, using UV-resistant plastics should be taken seriously when there is a need.
That’s it for this piece. Have a wonderful day, and keep smiling.