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When it comes to non-metals, there’s no more versatile material than plastic.

You can’t go one day — maybe not even one hour — without relying on some sort of plastic product within your everyday life. Plastics are out there constantly improving our world — keeping us dry when it rains, protecting our food, improving our daily commute, insulating our homes and accomplishing much, much more.

There are thousands of different types of plastic polymers, each meticulously customized with their own unique compositions and characteristics to meet specific demands.

The following eight broad categories of plastics include some of the most common polymers that, whether you realize it or not, have a profound impact on your day-to-day life.

Polyethylene (PE)

The planet’s most widely produced plastic, variations of this popular polymer include polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). PET is used to make plastic bottles and polyester fiber while the various density levels lend themselves to everything from plastic shopping bags and milk jugs to snowboards, boats and artificial hip implants.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Cost effective, incredibly durable and chemical- and weather-resistant, PVC is probably best known for plumbing and piping applications, but it’s also found in other construction materials, doors and windows. Softer, more flexible PVC variants find their way into electrical cable insulation, clothing, furniture, medical tubing and vinyl records.

Polypropylene (PP)

Stronger than PE but still flexible with a high heat tolerance, when melted PP is one of the most effective materials for injection molding. It’s also adaptable for use with a variety of manufacturing techniques, leading to uses spanning clothing, food containers, consumer product packaging and parts in the automotive industry.

Polystyrene (PS)

Commonly used for packaging peanuts, PS is among the most diverse plastic materials with applications found in home insulation, soft drink lids, medical equipment and various gaskets, seals and washers.

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

Derived from biomass rather than petroleum, PLA will biodegrade much quicker than most plastics. As a biodegradable, it’s ideal for uses from takeaway food containers and cups to sensitive medical applications as implants, rods and screws.

Polycarbonate (PC)

Transparent like glass, a great thermal insulator with higher impact strength than most other plastics, PC is perfect for greenhouses or in other construction and building roles.

Nylon (PA)

High strength, temperature resilience and chemical compatibility have led to nylon being used as a metal substitute in automotive engine applications. It’s also commonly found as rope, reinforcement in rubber material like car tires and as a variety of die cut seals, gaskets, washers and more.

Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)

Famously found in injection-molding manufacturing of popular children’s building toys, ABS is also great for die cutting thanks to its toughness and high impact strength. A combination of sturdiness, chemical resistance, electrical insulation and low water-absorption properties makes ABS a popular plastics choice in automotive and refrigeration industries.

At Breiner Non-Metallics, we appreciate everything plastic can do and can die cut plastic gaskets, seals and more for a wide range of industries and applications.

With hundreds of polymers and variations specifically designed to meet certain specifications for particular tasks and applications, there’s a plastic out there just right for you and your project’s needs. Let our experts help you find it! Reach out about your project or request a quote today.