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THE LIGHT ALTERNATIVE: Engineering Thermosets vs. Metals

Engineering thermosets, like many engineering thermoplastics, have inherent features that make them attractive design options as replacements for metal. As part of our series of articles about material and grade selection we give you a quick look of what sets ETS apart

Through the selection of resin chemistry, fillers and reinforcements, engineering thermosets can display a wide range of customizable material properties. Overall, they are lightweight, stiff, hard surfaced materials that are good thermal and electrical insulators. Unlike metals, they are not ductile. The characteristics of engineering thermosets need to be considered during the design phase. A part design optimized for metal will not be an optimal design for engineering thermosets.

Advantages of engineering thermosets over metals:

  • Lightweight
  • Inherently corrosion-resistant - no need for corrosion treatment
  • Can be molded into finished, tight tolerance complex shapes in one step vs. needing to be cast and machined
  • Low CTE (coefficient of thermal expansion), capable of matching steel or aluminium
  • Reinforced materials more isotropic¬≥ - less filler orientation

Differences between engineering thermosets and metals:

  • Thermosets are good thermal insulators, metals are not
  • Thermosets are good electrical insulators, metals are not
  • Thermosets are inherently corrosion resistant, metals are not
  • Thermosets have extremely good fatigue properties, metals not