With over three decades of experience machining precision plastic and composite parts for the Aerospace & Defense industry, AIP Precision Machining knows that weight and strength are critical for your flight-ready hardware. That’s why we’ve carefully selected, machined, and tested all our thermoplastic materials to various aerospace industry standards. Our lightweight polymers and composites have stable chemical and corrosion resistance, as well as improved strength to weight ratios when compared to exotic alloys and non-ferrous metals. AIP’s polymer and composite materials maintain their properties even at high temperatures.

 

Read more on thermoplastic materials commonly used in the Aerospace & Defense industry for every day to mission-critical applications.

 

 

ULTEM – PEI

 

ULTEM-PEIULTEM has one of the highest dielectric strengths of any thermoplastic material, meaning it works very efficiently as an electrical insulator. Being resistant to both hot water and steam, ULTEM can withstand repeated cycles in a steam autoclave and can operate in high service temperature environments (340F or 170C).  ULTEM also has one of the lowest rates of thermal conductivity, allowing parts machined from ULTEM to act as thermal insulators.  ULTEM is FDA and NSF approved for both food and medical contact and therefore is an excellent choice for aircraft galley equipment such as ovens, microwaves and hot or cold beverage dispensing systems.  UL94 V-O flame rating with very low smoke output makes this material ideal for aircraft interior components.

 

 

CELAZOLE – PBI

 

CELAZOLE - PBICELAZOLE provides the highest mechanical properties of any thermoplastic above 400F (204C) and offers a continuous use operating temperature of 750F (399C). CELAZOLE has outstanding high-temperature mechanical properties for use in aircraft engines and other HOT section areas. This impressive lightweight material retains 100% tensile strength after being submerged in hydraulic fluid at 200°F for thirty days.

 

 

 

 

RYTON – PPS

 

RYTON’s inherent fire retardancy, thermal stability and corrosion resistance makes it perfectly suited for aerospace applications, while its dimensional stability means even the most intricate parts can be molded from RYTON with very tight tolerances.  RYTON is typically used for injection molded parts, however, there is limited availability of extruded rod and plate for machining.

 

 

 

 

VESPEL or DURATRON – PI

 

DURATRON PILike RYTON, VESPEL is dimensionally stable and has fantastic temperature resistance. It can operate uninterrupted from cryogenic temperatures to 550°F, with intermittent to 900°F. Thanks to its resistance to high wear and friction, VESPEL performs with excellence and longevity in severe environments—like those used in aerospace applications. VESPEL is a trademarked material of DuPont and can be provided in direct formed blanks or finished parts directly from DuPont.  AIP provides precision machined components from DuPont manufactured rod and plate stock.  VESPEL is typically used in high temperature and high-speed bearing and wear applications such as stator bushings.

 

 

 

TORLON or DURATRON – PAI

 

TORLONDURATRON PAI’s extremely low coefficient of linear thermal expansion and high creep resistance deliver excellent dimensional stability over its entire service range. DURATRON PAI is an amorphous material with a Tg (glass transition temperature) of 537°F (280°C). DURATRON PAI stock shapes are post-cured using procedures developed jointly by BP Amoco under the TORLON trade name and Quadrant under the DURATRON trade name. A post-curing cycle is sometimes recommended for components fabricated from extruded shapes where optimization of chemical resistance and/or wear performance is required.  TOLRON parts are used in structural, wear and electrical aerospace applications.

 

 

 

TECHTRON – PPS

 

TECHTRONTECHTRON has essentially zero moisture absorption which allows products manufactured from this material to maintain extreme dimensional and density stability. TECHTRON is highly chemical resistant allowing it to operate while submerged in harsh chemicals. It is inherently flame retardant and can be easily machined to close tolerances. It has a broader resistance to chemicals than most high-performing plastics and can work well as an alternative to PEEK at lower temperatures.

 

 

RADEL – PPSU

 

RADELWith high heat and high impact performance, RADEL delivers better impact resistance and chemical resistance than other sulfone based polymers, such as PSU and PEI. Its toughness and long-term hydrolytic stability means it performs well even under autoclave pressure.  RADEL R5500 meets the stringent aircraft flammability requirements of 14CFR Part 25, allowing the aircraft design engineer to provide lightweight, safe and aesthetically pleasing precision components for various aircraft interior layouts.  RADEL can be polished to a mirror finish and is FDA and NSF approved for food and beverage contact.

 

 

 

KEL – F

 

KEL-FKel-F is a winning combination of physical and mechanical properties, non-flammability, chemical resistance, near-zero moisture absorption and of course outstanding electrical properties. This stands out from other thermoplastic fluoropolymers, as only Kel-F has these characteristics in a useful temperature range of -400°F to +400°F. In addition, it has very low outgassing and offers extreme transmissivity for radar and microwave applications. Many aircraft and ground-based random applications use Kel-F.

 

 

PEEK

 

PEEKPEEK can be used continuously to 480°F (250°C) and in hot water or steam without permanent loss in physical properties. For hostile environments, PEEK is a high strength alternative to fluoropolymers. PEEK carries a V-O flammability rating and exhibits very low smoke and toxic gas emission when exposed to flame. PEEK is an increasingly popular replacement for metal in the aerospace industry due to its lightweight nature, mechanical strength, creep and fatigue resistance, as well as its ease in processing. Its exceptional physical and thermal characteristics make it a versatile thermoplastic polymer in many aerospace applications.  AIP has provided flight control, fuel system, interior, engine and aerodynamic related PEEK components for various aircraft OEM and MRO providers worldwide.

 

 

KYNAR – PVDF

 

KYNAR - PVDFAnother example of thermoplastic materials used in aerospace and defense is KYNAR, or PVDF. This polymer has impressive chemical resistance at ambient and elevated temperatures, as well as good thermomechanical and tensile strength. KYNAR is extremely durable due to its weather-ability and toughness even in the most severe environments. In addition to being flame-resistant, KYNAR is easy to machine, too. You can typically find KYNAR components in pipe fitting and various fuel or other fluid-related precision manifolds or connectors.

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to search our material data for more information or request a quote here.

 

 

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PART SUMMARY:

 

One of the high-performance thermoplastics that AIP machines is Polyetherimide (PEI), known by its tradename ULTEM.  Due to its weight-saving properties, high chemical and hydrolysis resistance and tensile strength, ULTEM is popular across several industries: Automotive, aerospace and defense, electrical and electronic market, medical and life sciences and industrial applications and appliances.  Read on to learn about what this incredible polymer can do!

 

MATERIAL PROPERTIES:

 

Polyetherimide (PEI) is an amorphous thermoplastic.  Polyetherimide was developed to provide sufficient flexibility and good melt processability while maintaining excellent mechanical and thermal properties.

 

Key properties of ULTEM PEI include:

  • Handling at temperatures up to 340°F (171°C)
  • Heat Resistance
  • Flame Resistance
  • Chemical Resistance
  • High Rigidity
  • Highest Dielectric Strength
  • Hydrolysis Resistance
  • Low Thermal Conductivity

 

ULTEM Applications

As mentioned previously, ULTEM is a highly sought-after thermoplastic for weight-saving capabilities in aerospace components to reusable autoclave sterilizations in medical applications.  However, it’s most commonly used in high voltage electrical insulation applications.

 

Common uses include:

  • Analytical Instrumentation
  • Dielectric Properties Required
  • Electrical Insulators
  • High Strength Situations
  • Reusable Medical Devices
  • Semiconductor Process Components
  • Structural Components
  • Underwater Connector Bodies

 

So, what can this polymer do?  Let’s take a closer look at how ULTEM (PEI) is applied in the Aerospace & Defense, Medical & Life Sciences and Specialized Industrial markets:

 

WHAT CAN ULTEM DO FOR AEROSPACE & DEFENSE?

 

In the Aerospace & Defense Industry, ULTEM is often applied to aircraft components for weight reduction in place of metal parts.  Additionally, since it has a high thermal resistance rating, polymer components have the benefit of evading radar detection in military aircraft.

 

AIP machines ULTEM 1000 & ULTEM 2300

 

ULTEM 2300 is a 30 percent glass filled version of virgin ULTEM 1000.  The addition of glass increases ULTEM 1000’s dimensional stability by almost three times.

 

For over three decades, AIP has provided flight control, fuel system, interior, engine and aerodynamic-related ULTEM components for various aircraft OEM and MRO providers worldwide.  As this industry continues to expand, evolve and innovate, the demand for high-performance materials like ULTEM contribute significantly to streamlined operations.

 

WHAT CAN ULTEM DO FOR MEDICAL & LIFE SCIENCES?

 

In the Medical Industry, biocompatibility and sterilization are paramount to medical instruments and implants. ULTEM is often a popular choice in this sector due to its resistance to chemicals and lipids.  Polyetherimide also withstands dry heat sterilization at 356°F (180°C), ethylene oxide gas, gamma radiation and steam autoclave.

 

Some popular medical applications include disposable and re-usable medical devices and medical monitor probe housings.  These could be surgical instrument handles and enclosures or non-implant prostheses.  It gets extensive use in membrane applications due to its separation, permeance and biocompatible properties.

 

WHAT CAN ULTEM DO FOR SPECIALIZED INDUSTRIAL Sectors?

 

At AIP, we precision machine ULTEM for many specialized industrial applications as well: automotive, electrical and metal replacement, to name a few.  Despite the diversity of these industrial applications, we have the inventory and machining capabilities to provide solutions for any project specifications.

 

PEI is most often used in electrical and lighting systems in the automotive market for its high heat resistance, mechanical integrity and strength.  Principal automotive applications include: transmission parts, throttle bodies, ignition components, thermostat housings, bezels, reflectors, lamp sockets and electromechanical systems.

 

The electrical and electronic markets demand high heat resistant materials.  ULTEM is an excellent choice for applications such as electrical circuit boards, switches, connectors, electronic chips and capacitors.

 

As discussed previously, thermoplastics like ULTEM often replace metal parts in industrial applications.  For this reason, it’s often used in housewares, especially fluid handling systems.  Some of these applications are: HVAC equipment, microwave cookware, steam and curling irons, dual-ovenable trays for food packaging that meets FDA food packaging requirements.

 

What can AIP Precision Machining do for you?

 

From concept to completion, our team of engineers will work with you to realize the final product.  With some of the fastest lead times in the industry, our unrivaled technical experts we can tackle your polymer challenges.

 

What Can This Polymer Do? Supportive Information

 

Medical Sector Biomaterials Guide

Energy Sector Materials Guide

Aerospace Sector Materials Guide

Amorphous Materials

Aerospace Case Study: Weight-saving Polymers

 

 

CUSTOMIZED FOR YOUR APPLICATION

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Learn about AIP’s precision machining capabilities for mission-critical components.

 

High-performance precision plastics require high-performance precision CNC machining.  CNC machines, or computer numerically controlled machines, are electro-mechanical devices that use tools at varying axes (usually 3-5) to produce a physical part from a computer design file.

 

Our modern society runs on CNC machined plastic components – from everyday household piping to critical spinal implants.  The breadth of materials, shapes and industries served is endless.

At AIP, we precision machine parts for industries such as the aerospace & defense, medical & life sciences and power & energy.  Each part that is CNC machined comes with design specifications and dimensional tolerances.  Our machinists are capable of crafting parts at .002 mm tolerance, which can make a whole lot of a difference in the performance of a mission-critical part.

 

Let’s back up a moment though.  What are dimensional tolerances? And how do you know if your project should demand a tighter tolerance?  Read on in this month’s blog to find out.

 

Let’s Talk About Tolerance

 

What are machining tolerances?

In CNC machining terms, tolerance, or dimensional accuracy, is the amount of deviation in a specific dimension of a part caused by the manufacturing process.  No machine can perfectly match specified dimensions.  The designer provides these specifications to the machinists based on the form, fit and function of a part.

 

How are tolerances measured?   

CNC machines are precise and measured in thousandths of an inch, referred to as “thou” among machinists.  Any system is usually expressed as “+/-”; this means that a CNC machine with a tolerance of +/- .02 mm can either deviate an extra .02 mm from the standard value or less .02 mm by the standard value.

 

 

Why are tolerances critical?

Tolerances keep the integrity and functionality of the machined part.  If the component is manufactured outside of the defined dimensions, it is unusable, since the crucial features are not fulfilling the intent of the design.

 

How close can a tolerance get?

Tolerance depends on the material that you use and the desired purpose of the design.  In plastics machining, the tolerances can be from +/- 0.10 mm to +/- 0.002 mm.  Tighter tolerances should only be used when it is necessary to meet the design criteria for the part.

 

When .002 mm Matters

 

What is the .002 mm difference?  In many industries, such as the medical industry, it is crucial to machine parts with extreme precision so that they can interact with human tissue or other medical devices.  In fact, when it comes to manufacturing medical applications, subtractive manufacturing (CNC machining) provides tighter tolerances than additive manufacturing (3-D printing).

 

 


(AIP PEEK Eye Implant)
 

Tight tolerances like the .002 mm are important because plastics are machined to interact with other parts.  In particular, CNC milled or turned plastics are unique designs for limited quantities, such as custom-made brackets and fasteners, or components for prototyping purposes.

 

One of the most critical considerations when applying tolerances is to take into account fits. This refers to how shafts will fit into bushings or bearings, motors into pilot holes, and so on. Depending on the application, the part may require a clearance fit to allow for thermal expansion, a sliding fit for better positioning, or an interference fit for holding capability.

 

As with anything that is precision machined, tighter tolerances demand time and skill.  Make sure to work with a certified company like AIP that has the infrastructure and expertise to complete your project with unmatched precision and unrivaled experience.

 

Let our team go to work for you

 

With 36+ years of experience in the industry, our dedicated craftsmen and ties to leading plastic manufacturers allow us to provide you with unrivaled knowledge and consulting in material selection, sizing, manufacturing techniques and beyond to best meet your project needs.

 

AIP offers a unique combination of CNC machining, raw material distribution, and consultancy as a reliable source for engineering information for materials such as PEEK, TORLON, ULTEM and more.

 

We are AS 9100D compliant; certified and registered with ISO 13485 and ISO 9001 and standards in our commitment to machining quality custom plastic components for specialized industrial sectors. Quality assurance is included as an integral part of our process and is addressed at every step of your project, from concept to completion.

 

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