Matching the best material to an industry application can be a minefield.

Definition: A polymer is a substance made up of a large number of smaller molecules that link together to form larger molecules. An example of a synthetic polymer is plastic.


The very first man-made plastic was Parkesine. It was invented by Alexander Parkes in 1856, and could be coloured to resemble ivory. It was not a complete success, certainly when formed into snooker balls, as it cracked and was flammable. Since that time, the proliferation of new fit-for-purpose plastics with distinct properties has fuelled the advancement of numerous and diverse industries and applications on which the modern world depends today.

Many of these industries rely on the expertise and skills of plastic engineers to manufacture the polymer or plastic parts that help to make things work. All Axis’ engineers help to make things work better. How can we achieve this? Partly because we’re plastics specialists – but primarily because our vast technical knowledge is matched by real long-term industry experience.

We know which factors to consider, and materials and processes to select, for your industry application to be a success. The earlier we are involved in your project, the greater the opportunity to optimise your competitive advantage. We’ll analyse your application’s purpose, environment and lifetime performance criteria so we understand every detail of what is required.

Our polymer portfolio has conventional and specialist materials to ensure we can meet both typical and diverse customer-specific demands. We supply shapes, rods and tubes in many different colours and sizes. We are here to offer you an optimized technical solution at competitive prices whatever the scale of your job.

Fill in our enquiry form for a quick call back from one of All Axis’ plastic engineering experts.

Knowledge for thought...

We know you might want to learn a bit more about polymers here. Polymers that would best suit a structural (dynamic/static) or bearing and wear application (thermal/frictional forces). That will stand up to extreme temperatures, high impact, various chemicals, and be resistant to cold. And about cosmetic aspects such as surface finish or simply just colour options and textures.

If this is you, please take a look at our Quick Reference Guide on polymers which describes some typical aspects of the most widely used plastics in industrial applications.

Of course, if you just love plastics like we do, and have time for a leisurely read, there’s a great article at the Nobel Prize website on how PLASTICS HAVE CHANGED THE WORLD.

Quick Reference Guide

Click on any of the engineering polymers listed below for more information.

  • Acrylic or PMMA

    Polymethyl methacrylate (Plexiglas®, Acrylite®, Lucite, and Perspex®)

    PMMA has high light transmission, great surface hardness, is resistant to weathering and UV light, and has good electrical insulating properties. It can be transparent or a variety of colours. Used frequently in manifolds for medical and industrial applications, model making, lenses and light guides. Note this material is notch sensitive.

  • ABS


    ABS is hard-wearing, offers good resistance to heat and chemicals is easy to process. It is strong and durable even at low temperatures. Used in applications in the automotive and electronics industries. Typical parts include piping systems, baffle plates, and valve fittings which can be produced in beige or grey.

  • Polyethylene


    Polyethylene is resistant to chemicals, greases and oils, and is a dimensionally stable plastic that absorbs very little water. Colours are natural, white or black.

    Low density form (LDPE) – 70°C in air: This can be used where corrosion and erosion resistance are required but if an application needs stiffness, high temperatures and structural strength then this is not the best material. LDPE is used for guide rails, impact plates and fenders.

    High density form (HDPE) - 80°C in air: This grade offers excellent impact resistance, low moisture absorption and high tensile strength. HDPE is non-toxic and meets with the FDA approval for food processing. Suitable for parts including wear strips in conveyor system and ROV protection pads.

    HMWPE - Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene.

    UHMWPE - Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, sometimes shortened to UH.

  • Polycarbonate

    (Makrolon ® Lexan ®)

    A number of useful features including impact and temperature resistance, and optical properties. Suitable for machine guards and shrouds, optical or medical devices, and food processing machinery. Available in clear, tinted and opal with abrasion and UV resistant grades.

  • Polypropylene


    A rigid, tough and light weight plastic with good chemical resistance and which can withstand high impact. Limited in use due to poor UV resistance and high creep. It can be white, beige or black. Commonly used for parts in pumps and valves in fluid handling equipment.

  • PVC

    Polyvinyl Chloride

    PVC has high mechanical and tensile strength and an exceptional corrosion resistance, but a limited temperature range (-20 to + 65 C). One of the earliest plastics, and is also one of the most extensively used. It’s rigidity, strength, colour and transparency can be adjusted to meet most applications. PVC pipes, tubes and valve fittings feature across many industries including medical and pharmaceutical, automotive, construction, and food packaging.

  • Acetal

    Polyoxymethylene, POM

    Available in Copolymer and Homopolymer forms. Copolymer acetal is a superior performer and has the advantage of being less porous than homopolymer acetal. However they are commonly interchangeable and share benefits including low moisture absorption, good chemical resistance, strong dimensional stability and high mechanical strength and rigidity. Actel is also easy to machine to close tolerances and has good electrical properties.

    Acetal is a common polymer choice for electronic components. Machined Acetal parts also include bearings, bushings, rollers, and pumps and valves.

  • Nylon


    Nylon has a low coefficient of friction and can be easily machined to high tolerances. Nylon is frequently used to replace metal bearings and bushings, and can dispense with the need for external lubrication. It is FDA compliant grade engineering plastic. Additionally it brings benefits including reduction in operating noise, weight, and wear on mating parts.

    Nylon tubes, rods, and sheets are available in various grades including Extruded and Cast Nylon 6, Nylon 66, and MOS2 (Molybdenum Disulphide) filled. Parts such as rollers, wheels, wear pads and seals and gaskets are frequently manufactured in Nylon.

  • PEEK


    This material offers an excellent combination of mechanical strength, dimensional stability, mechanical damping properties and wear resistance.

    It has very good chemical resistance and together with a favourable electrical insulating ability, PEEK is an engineering grade polymer ideally suited to mechanical, construction and maintenance industries.

  • PTFE

    Polytetrafluoroethylene [Teflon®]

    PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene is an ideal material for sealing at extremes of temperature up to 260°C. It offers low flammability and a non-stick, low friction coefficient.

    Available in a variety of virgin or filled grades it also has other advantages including excellent chemical resistance and corrosion protection. PTFE has top rated dielectric electrical insulation properties, high thermal stability and flame resistance. It is resistant to weathering and ageing and is food grade complaint. Glass fibre is the most commonly used filler in PTFE. This offers improved compression and wear properties.

  • PVDF

    Polyvinyl Fluoride (KF (Kureha), Hylar (Solvay), Kynar (Arkema)

    PVDF is a specialty plastic used in applications requiring the highest purity. It has a temperature range of -30°C to +150°C, and excellent chemical resistance to solvents, acids and bases. PVDF is available in sheet, tube, pipe, film and plate forms and is used as an insulator for premium wire. It can be machined, molded and welded and is commonly used in the chemical, semiconductor, medical and defence industries.