Universal Plastics sources the highest quality materials from our extensive network of leading suppliers within the industry who provide us with the right sheet for every custom thermoforming application. We have extensive experience using a variety of plastic materials with unique properties and characteristics. For more information on materials used and to discuss what may work best for your needs, contact us.

Selecting a Material:

There are several factors that go into the selection of the best material for your application. Each plastic resin has physical characteristics that make it suitable for specific applications. Universal Plastics’ design and engineering team can recommend a material based on these factors:

  • Rigidity: Does the part need to be stiff or have some flexibility?
  • Appearance: How important is appearance compared to strength, weight, durability and use?
  • Cost: Do you need the least expensive part or are other qualities important?
  • Finish Options: Will the part be painted, or can a material be used that has the desired color and surface so that no painting is required? Will text or graphics be printed on the part?
  • Conductivity: Should the part have non-conductive properties, as most materials are, or should a conductive coating be used?
  • Compatibility: What other material does the part come into contact with?
  • Weight: Different materials have different densities. Is weight a factor over strength, appearance or other qualities?

Universal Plastics can form thermoplastic materials up to 0.5″ thick.

Commonly Used Materials:

Name Chemical Name Description/Properties
ABS Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Very commonly used
Available in a variety of colors and textures
Good resistance to impact
Available in flame retardant grades (UL94-V0)
Acrylic Polymethyl Methacrylate, Plexiglass Clear material
Available in a variety of colors
Easy to fabricate
Resistant to abrasion
Impact resistant grades available
HDPE High Density Polyethylene Impact resistant
Chemical resistant
Resistant to cold temperatures
Less dimensionally stable than other materials
HIPS High Impact Polystyrene Available in many colors
Low cost
Easy to form
More brittle than ABS
KYDEX PMMA/PVC blend Good for general purposes
Available in a variety of colors and textures
Impact resistant
Chemical resistant
Highly cosmetic
Available in flame retardant grades (UL94-V0)
PC Polycarbonate Clear material
Very good impact strength
Resistant to high temperatures
PEI Polyetherimide, Ultem Natural amber-colored material
Very resistant to high temperatures
PETG Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol Clear material
Forms well
Impact resistant
PP Polypropylene Similar to HDPE
Chemical resistant
Rigid & impact resistant
Good at higher temperatures
Dimensionally not as stable as other materials
PVC Polyvinyl Chloride Limited availability
Rigid & impact resistant
Available in flame retardant grades (UL94-V0)
TPO Thermoplastic Polyolefin Available in a high gloss finish
Excellent impact resistance
Good for outdoor products
Difficult to form, especially deep draw shapes

Other specialty materials are available, for help choosing the best thermoplastic material for your application, just contact us.

Download the materials commonly used here.