Archived Viewpoints


About This Technology

Engineering polymers—thermoplastic resins that retain their mechanical properties at elevated temperatures—provide light weight, high impact strength, stiffness, toughness, and wear, fatigue, and chemical resistance in a variety of demanding applications. EPs also offer design flexibility, allowing the fabrication of flat, gently curved, and deeply contoured parts or intricate thin-wall components. Manufacturers and processors can tailor these materials to specific applications by combining the base resins with reinforcements and additives or by blending them with other polymers. As result, EPs have become an integral part of design engineers' toolkits, replacing steel, aluminum, glass, ceramics, and other conventional materials in a diverse range of applications: consumer products and appliances, electrical equipment and electronics, automotive components and transportation, industrial machinery, and others (medical and dental devices, architecture, horticulture, rigid packaging, waste containers, flexible packaging, domestic products, and so on.)

Today, most of the standard accessories of modern life incorporate EPs and find widespread use in cars and trucks applications such as headlight lenses, bumpers, cooling systems, under-the-hood components, steering wheels, door handles, seat systems, instrument panels, and air-intake manifolds. EPs are rapidly replacing metals in the production of automotive components to reduce weight, simplify manufacturing and production times, and increase service lifetimes. Electrical and electronic devices also make extensive use of EPs in applications from connectors, sockets, and switches to housings for mobile phones, electronics, computers, printers, and media players. Appliances, optical media, and power tools are other important uses for EPs. Medical and dental implants make use of EPs to extend the life span and increase the biocompatibility of the device. The aerospace and spaceship-building industries also seek out engineering polymers. The increasing production of unconventional fuel, including shale gas and tight oil, looks set to stimulate the oil-and-gas sector.

Demand for these versatile materials will continue to grow as a result of new application development, steady growth in existing end uses, and ongoing substitution for conventional materials. Tomorrow's vehicles, homes, and workplaces—like today's—will rely on EPs' lightweight strength, durability, and design flexibility. Additional opportunities to create engineering polymers that are even stronger and lighter and able to withstand higher temperatures are the key drivers to advance the EP market.