Plastics for Military & Defense
From construction to household product manufacturing to medical facilities, customized plastic sheets are used in various industries. While common plastics may function well in many commercial settings, some industries demand high-performance materials that adhere to exacting standards.
These sectors include the aerospace, defense, and manufacturing sectors. As a result, plastics serve in many ways, delivering significant advantages in design and performance over older material options.
Here's a look at how performance plastic sheet impacts military and aerospace industries.
Aerospace and Military Grade Custom Plastic Sheets
Because they are lightweight, performance plastics are particularly well suited for aerospace applications. Aerodynamic and fuel-efficient components are required for both the interior and exterior of airplanes and other aircraft and the lesser fuel needed to reach a destination, the better. Light, impact-resistant plastic sheet also make suitable bulkheads and storage spaces.
What Types of Plastics Are Used In Aircraft?
In general, plastics are lighter than metal, don't rust, are simple to construct, offer a wide variety of design versatility in terms of color, texture, and pattern, and are fully compliant with flame, smoke, toxicity, and heat release.
Popular plastics for military aircraft construction include:
- PEEK (polyetheretherketone)
- PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene)
- PAI (polyamide-imide)
- PPSU (polyphenylsulfone)
- ECTFE (ethylene-chlorotrifluoroethylene)
Plastic parts can last longer than other materials and require less upkeep. One of the primary motivations for utilizing plastic is the need to lighten the load on the aircraft, which lowers costs by using less fuel.
Uses for plastics can include cargo containers, bulkheads, dashboard enclosures, cockpit visors, work surfaces, window shades, dust panes, and signage. On the outside of an aircraft, high-performance plastics can be used for a plane's nose or for making various cone shapes and any components situated along the exterior.
Uses of Plastics for Armored Vehicles
Many of the same use plastics have for military aircraft can also be applied to armored vehicles, ambulances, and supply trucks—all of which might have to operate under hostile conditions.
Plastics are frequently used in making armored window glazing. They provide good visibility while also protecting the vehicle and its occupants. In addition, windows and other vehicle components, such as dashboards, must be resistant to general corrosion, blast and fragment impact, and fire. Strong plastics, such as polycarbonate, offer the durability and strength required for these high-performance applications.
Other Plastics Used In Military Applications
There are more uses for plastics in military applications than air or land vehicles. Because plastics are durable, corrosion-resistant, lighter than metal, simple to form, and easy to maintain, they are used for almost anything one might also see in civilian use but requires an above-average level of strength.
These plastics and popular uses include:
- ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene): machine housing, instrument panels, heavy-duty storage cases, covers, and guards for machinery and other equipment.
- HDPE (high-density polyethylene): Pipes, flanges, and other plumbing components, marine construction, chemical tanks, anti-skid surfaces, liners, and light-but-strong indoor/outdoor furniture.
- PC (polycarbonate): industrial-strength window glazing, transparent machine guards, heavy machinery windows, windshields, face shields, sight glasses, and electrical components.
What Is the Strongest Plastic Sheet?
Because military equipment and vehicles need to survive almost any situation, it's essential to know what plastic, overall, is the toughest.
Of the varieties of flexible plastic sheet available, HDPE (high-density polyethylene) stands out as the strongest, toughest, most chemically resistant, and least flexible. Additionally, HDPE has the highest UV resistance, withstanding the sun's harsh rays without requiring UV additive packages. The tight cell structure of HDPE, which makes it extremely difficult for other molecules to get through it microscopically, is what gives it its strength. It has a working temperature range of 32°F to 210°F and a forming temperature range of 310–325°F.
HDPE can be easily seamed together for applications that require large liners, such as liquid storage containers. The industry thickness range can go from 12 mils to 100 mils thick. When chemical resistance is essential, HDPE can be used as secondary containment liners for oil tanks, industrial ponds, and canal liners.
Military Grade Plastics from Piedmont Plastics
Piedmont Plastics is a fully-authorized distributor of stock plastic sheets, rods, tubing, and film and can provide complete or partially fabricated parts. We have staff available to support contracting officers, purchasers, and agencies with their selection of material needs.
Piedmont Plastics has more than 50 branch locations across North America and provides market-leading solutions for all significant industrial markets.
Contact our materials specialists today for more information.