Improving Your Material Selection Process

Improving Your Material Selection Process

Improving Your Material Selection Process


Material selection is critical to every application, but selecting the correct material upfront helps to mitigate product failure resulting in recalls or warranty issues and can help avoid costly program delays. However, as more “material experts” have retired from resin suppliers, receiving this needed support in the process is getting harder to come by.

With a deep, experienced team of technical experts, PolySource brings the latest knowledge and support to help you find the right material for your application. In our latest webinar, Dr. Cliff Watkins highlighted the questions to ask and best practices to allow you to enter your next material conversation, both informed and confident.

How do you improve the material selection process?

Before the material selection process begins, it is imperative to fully understand and consider all the requirements for the application, which include things such as functionality, regulatory and environmental. Working up front with a material supplier can help to highlight any issues that may arise down the line.

When selecting a new resin for an application, everything begins with what PolySource calls the “triangle”, a meeting that includes the OEM, the processor and the material supplier. As experienced resin suppliers, PolySource understands the importance of working with the OEMs to complete the triangle. Beyond the OEMs having to work with the processor to understand and confirm that the functionality and the design of the part can be molded, they should also work closely with the resin supplier to ensure that the material selected will meet all application requirements.

At PolySource, a key to our success is our ability to look beyond what is working right now to discover new ways to improve our solutions and offerings. This ability is particularly important as the requirements for applications are ever-changing. Often, we find that there is a comfort level in using the same material that has always been used, the “If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it” proverb, but just because it worked in the past, does not always mean it will continue to work. It is critical to continue to have conversations with the “triangle” because as requirements change, the typically used material may no longer be as effective.

Without these consistent conversations, problems can arise down the road. For example, if the new requirements are ignored, it creates larger challenges further down the process it gets before being realized. If an injection mold has already been made, it can be a costly and difficult challenge to find a way to adjust the mold to fit a new resin, especially since most molds are designed specifically for the initial material chosen.

Asking the Right Questions 

We already highlighted one way to avoid costly mistakes by working with the supplier in the early stages of development, but another, and equally important, aspect of the material selection process is asking questions. How many questions should you ask? There is no limit on the amount that you should ask because the selection process of the right material is only as good as the questions asked. The more questions you ask, the more answers you have to help provide the information base to determine the correct material.

Some general upfront questions to ask include:

  • Are there chemical resistance requirements?
  • Can you produce your design? (This is where working with the processor upfront is important.)
  • How will you validate your design?
  • Is there a heat source?
  • What are the impact needs?
  • Will you be prototyping?

Other questions that might arise center around the requirements to review, necessary for selecting the best material option, such as:

  • Mechanical
    • Strength
    • Stiffness
    • Toughness
  • Environment
    • Chemical
    • Heat
    • UV
  • Moldability
    • Part design functionality
    • Processor capability
  • Regulatory
    • Flammability
    • Medical
    • Electrical

Asking questions is the key to building the information needed to select the right material. At the end of the day, the role of the resin supplier is to help keep maintain that all decisions made, are led by the data, helping the customer to make the best decision.

How PolySource can help

PolySource helps customers going through the material selection process by asking the right questions, ensuring that you understand the specific needs of the application. We are known as The Fixers, because of our ability to help customers navigate through potential issues and save money.

To highlight an example of our success, we had a customer with a radiator fan application that was using GF PA66. After our analysis, we found that the moisture content in the material was an issue and that they did not have the drying capacity to properly dry the material. The result of this was the lack of a processing window with material variability, flash, short shots and parts with splay. The part would start fine, but after a few hours, the issues would begin.

To fix this, we either needed to add dryer capacity or change the material. By going with the latter to find a solution, “The Fixers” performed a deep dive on actual application requirements and discovered a solution. By recommending glass-reinforced PP, the customer was able to meet all application requirements including stiffness, impact and heat resistance and the material change also helped the customer save money, providing a solution that was less per pound, had less specific gravity, and the material does not need to be dried.

Need help with your material selection process? Explore a better resin-buying experience with PolySource! Contact us today.