Basic Material Trade-offs

PAPER


Materials

Temp.
Relative
Pricing
Advantages (+)
Disadvantages (–)

Applications
PAPER
  Hi-gloss
  Semi-gloss
  Litho
175°F
79°C
1
+ Inexpensive
– No water
   resistance
– No UL approval
Because of its low cost, paper dominates all "disposable" applications. Box labels, Consumer Packaged goods, etc.


PLASTIC   -- Thin (<.004")


Materials

Temp.
Relative
Pricing
Advantages (+)
Disadvantages (–)

Applications
POLYOLEFIN
Vinyl & Polyolefin
  PVC (Vinyl)
  Polyethylene
  Polypropylene
  Polystyrene
175°F
79°C
2.3
+ Water resistance
+ UL up to 175° F
+ Relatively
   inexpensive

 
Used broadly for all durable products labels (product ID, rating labels, warning labels) where temperature exposure is below 175° F.

 
POLYOLEFIN
Cast Vinyl
  Colors



 
200°F
95°C
15
+ Outdoor UV
   resistance
+ Comes in colors
– Expensive


 
"Niche" product, very expensive, used where outdoor UV resistance is primary objective (Outdoor graphics). Casting process allows pigments to be “built-in” during manufacture, so vinyls come in a wide range of sunlight resistant colors.
POLYESTER
  White
  Clear
  Dull Silver
  Bright Silver
275°F
135°C
6
+ Excellent
   temperature
   resistance
+ UL up to 275° F
 
Used instead of polyolefins for all types of durable product labels (product ID, rating labels, warning labels), where temperatures above 175° F and below 275° F are required.


PLASTIC   -- Thick (>.004")


Materials

Temp.
Relative
Pricing
Advantages (+)
Disadvantages (–)

Applications
POLYCARBONATE
( Lexan™ )
  Velvet Matte (8B35)
  Velvet Gloss (8A35)
  Gloss Gloss (8010)
  Matte Gloss (8A13)









 
275°F
135°C
7
+ Good stiffness
   (5 - 60 mil)
+ Velvet =
   good scratch
   resistance,
   Gloss = poor
– Poor chemical
   resistance
– Poor flex
   strength





 
By far the dominant 5 to 60 mil product used for Durable product overlays -- i.e. "front panels" on durable products. Typically printed subsurface, so graphics are protected from scratching and environment. Easier to print and cut than polyester. Polycarbonate can be extruded with velvet texture and other finishes that are unavailable in polyester. In glass clear form (8010), it scratches very easily, and has poor chemical resistance. Cracks when subjected to flexing over time when used for a membrane key pad.
HARD COAT
POLYCARBONATE

  HP12S - Matte
  HP40S - Slight Matte
  HP90S - Glass Clear

 
275°F
135°C
17
+ Good chemical
   resistance
+ Good scratch
   resistance
– Expensive
– Poor flex
   strength
Coating adds scratch resistance and chemical resistance to glass clear polycarbonate. Used for overlays with glass clear LED and LCD windows. Roughly doubles the cost compared to standard polycarb.

SILENNA™
  Velvet

 
180°F
82°C
4.5

+ Good match in
   appearance to
   matte polycarb
+ Relatively
   inexpensive
40% less expensive than polycarbonate and has temperature resistance far superior to vinyl. Its appearance is very similar to 8B35 velvet polycarbonate, although not quite as “velvet”. Rated as “horizontal burn” (HB). Not UL approved, but ideal for when cost is of utmost importance, and 140°F just doesn’t get the job done.
SCRATCH
RESISTANT VINYL

  Velvet





 
150°F
65.6°C
3.2
+ Good scratch
   resistance
+ Inexpensive
– Poor
   dimensional
   stability


 
Identical in appearance to velvet polycarbonate, but softens at 150° F. Used in place of velvet polycarbonate when cost is critical and temperature resistance is not. Poor dimensional stability makes it inappropriate for tight fit in recessed areas, or tight print to die registration.
POLYESTER
  Glass Clear
  Specialized Velvet
  Textures Added

 
275°F
135°C
5 - 15
+ Good chemical
   resistance
+ Good flex
   strength
+ Modest scratch
   resistance
Used primarily in membrane switches where actuation life (ability to flex over the life of the product) is critical. Better chemical resistance and scratch resistance than non-hardcoat polycarbonate.

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