DSM Engineering Materials


Understanding chemical stability in plastic parts

8 March 2019
  • Krijn DijkstraDirector Advanced Engineering for DSM Engineering Materials

Chemicals can react very aggressively with plastic parts. Whether it’s fuel, oil, exhaust gas, water glycol, battery acid, sunscreen, cleaning agents or foodstuff, many chemicals can be absorbed by or attack the polymer, causing a change in material properties.

Chemical exposure needs to be considered in every application. Even things we may not consider as “chemical” – such as sebum or water – can have strong effects on the plastic materials, depending on the temperature, concentration, and length of exposure. Accounting for chemical exposure is challenging as the material properties needed for each application vary. A structural part under the hood of a vehicle needs to retain its mechanical properties, while a soft-touch part on a handheld device needs to retain its color and haptics.


Understanding chemical stability

Chemical effects can be physical, chemical or both. These effects can include a change in dimension, staining, or irreversible chemical degradation. In certain environments where plastics are exposed to oils, the plastic needs to be stable from the oil, the degradation products of the oil/grease formulation, and any additives designed to improve the oil’s performance. This places high demands on the materials used in these challenging applications.

DSM has a full portfolio of materials that are stable against the many aggressive chemicals, and we can share extensive data on our materials and how they perform when exposed to a wide variety of chemicals to help guide customers in selecting the right material grade for their application’s specific needs.

Contact us to learn more about our approach to understanding chemical stability, and how we can help you choose an effective grade for your application.

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