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uv resistant plastics

The Best UV-Resistant Plastics for Custom Manufacturing

In the vibrant world of custom manufacturing, choosing the suitable material is critical. Among the multitude of considerations, one aspect often overlooked is UV resistance.

This quality can dramatically affect the longevity and visual appeal of a product.

Today, I will explore UV-resistant plastics, their importance, and how they can offer robust solutions for custom manufacturing.

What is UV Radiation and How Does it Affect Plastics?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, a component of the sun’s invisible light spectrum, may not be detectable by the human eye, but it carries significant consequences for durable materials, notably plastics. When subject to UV radiation, plastics may degrade, leading to alterations in color, increased fragility, and an overall decline in physical properties. As such, incorporating UV resistance in plastics becomes crucial, particularly for applications exposed to sunlight or artificial UV sources.

what is uv radiation
What is UV Radiation

UV radiation can be categorized into three primary types:

UVA: The most prevalent form causing deterioration in plastic polymers and pigments, leading to color fading and brittleness.

UVB: The most damaging variant, it primarily harms the material’s surface and adversely affects mechanical performance.

UVC: Its effects are limited as the Earth’s ozone layer absorbs most of it.

The relentless exposure of ordinary plastics to UV rays prompts molecular bond breakdown within the material. This process precipitates polymer chain scission, additive package loss, and pigment destruction. As a result, plastics may showcase signs of degradation, such as chalking, yellowing, crazing, and cracking. These symptoms signify weakened plastic that’s less capable of withstanding impact and regular usage.

Benefits of Using UV-Resistant Plastics in Manufacturing

UV-resistant plastics have revolutionized the manufacturing industry with their ability to withstand the deleterious effects of UV radiation. Here are some of the key benefits of using UV-resistant plastics in manufacturing:

Increased Durability: UV-resistant plastics are designed to withstand the harsh effects of prolonged UV exposure. This resilience ensures that the plastic retains its structural integrity and function over time, despite being subjected to intense sunlight or other UV sources.

Retention of Mechanical Properties: Many plastics can become brittle and weak when exposed to UV radiation. However, UV-resistant plastics maintain their mechanical properties, such as tensile strength, elasticity, and hardness, ensuring that the product performs reliably even after long periods of UV exposure.

Longer Product Lifetime: UV-resistant plastics’ durability and maintained mechanical properties result in an extended lifespan for the product. This longevity enhances the product’s value and contributes to sustainability by reducing the frequency of replacement and, thus, waste generation.

Preserved Aesthetics: UV radiation can cause discoloration and fading in many materials. UV-resistant plastics resist this effect, maintaining their original color and appearance. This characteristic is crucial for products where aesthetic appeal is a key consideration, such as outdoor signage or consumer products.

Cost-Effective: Although UV-resistant plastics may initially cost more than non-UV-resistant alternatives, their extended lifespan and reduced maintenance or replacement needs make them a cost-effective solution in the long run.

Versatility: UV-resistant plastics come in various types, each with unique properties. This diversity means manufacturers can select a plastic that not only resists UV radiation but also meets other specific requirements of the product, such as transparency, impact resistance, or chemical resistance.

By integrating UV-resistant plastics into manufacturing, businesses can ensure their products’ longevity, functionality, and aesthetic appeal, delivering greater value to their customers and establishing a strong market presence.

Types of UV-Resistant Plastics

UV resistant material, precisely plastic material, has become an indispensable asset across numerous industries, offering amplified durability and longevity. In the following sections, I’ll delve into some of the most frequently utilized types of UV-resistant plastics.



Known for its strength and transparency, polycarbonate offers impressive UV resistance. It’s a great fit for products requiring durability without compromising visibility. Examples include safety goggles, greenhouse panels, and even compact discs.


acrylic cnc machined parts
Acrylic CNC Machined Parts

Acrylic is a UV-resistant plastic offering excellent optical clarity and a high-gloss finish, making it suitable for applications requiring aesthetic appeal. Its uses include signage, window panes, and even aquarium tanks.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

polyethylene terephthalate pet
Polyethylene Terephthalate

PET is not only tough but also provides good UV resistance. Its applications often lie in areas requiring strength, durability, and UV resistance. One of the most common uses of PET is in the packaging industry, particularly for food and beverage containers.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

cpvc grey cnc turning 4 axis cnc milling
PVC Grey CNC Turning 4 axis Milling

PVC is a versatile plastic with good UV resistance. Its range of applications is vast, from pipes and cable insulation to clothing and inflatable structures. Its resistance to UV light and a broad range of chemicals increases its lifespan in outdoor applications.

Polyamides (Nylon)

cnc nylon parts 1
CNC Nylon Parts

Polyamides like Nylon can exhibit good UV resistance, mainly when filled or coated. They’re commonly employed in automotive parts and textiles, where durability, flexibility, and UV resistance are key requirements.

Polyetherimide (PEI)

pei part
Polyetherimide (PEI) Part

Polyetherimide (PEI), commonly known as Ultem, is a thermoplastic renowned for its heat resistance, mechanical strength, and good UV resistance. Due to its properties, this material is highly valued across various industries, including aerospace, automotive, and medical. PEI’s inherent UV stability suits it, particularly for applications exposed to sunlight or other UV sources.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

polytetrafluoroethylene ptfe cnc parts
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) CNC Parts

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or Teflon, is a UV-resistant plastic known for its high-temperature tolerance and chemical resistance. This low-friction material withstands UV exposure without substantial degradation, making it ideal for various industrial applications. Along with its UV resistance, PTFE’s broad durability attributes contribute to its wide-ranging utility.

These UV-resistant plastics offer unique properties that make them suitable for specific applications. When selecting the right plastic for a product or project, considering factors like UV resistance, strength, flexibility, and transparency can ensure the best match for the application.

PropertyPolycarbonate(PC)AcrylicPolyethylene Terephthalate (PET)Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)Polyamides (Nylon)Polyetherimide (PEI)Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
UV ResistanceExcellentExcellentGoodGoodGood (when filled or coated)GoodModerate
Impact ResistanceHighModerateHighModerate to HighHighHighModerate
Tensile Strength55-75 MPa70-130 MPa50-80 MPa40-80 MPa45-100 MPa110-145 MPa20-27 MPa
TransparencyHighHighModerate to HighLowLowSemi-transparentLow
Chemical ResistanceModerateLowModerateHighModerateHighHigh
Typical ApplicationsSafety goggles, greenhouses, compact discsSignage, window panes, aquariumsPackaging for food and beveragesPipes, cable insulation, clothingAutomotive parts, textilesautomotive parts, medicalchemical industry, electronics
Note: The given data are approximate values. The exact properties of each type of plastic can vary depending on the specific formulation used.

Key Properties to Look for When Selecting UV-Resistant Plastics

choose uv resistant plastics
Choose UV-Resistant Plastics

Choosing the right UV-resistant plastic involves considering several key properties, such as:

UV Absorption: This measures the material’s ability to absorb UV radiation, protecting the integrity of the material. For example, a UV-absorbing polycarbonate may be used for eyewear lenses, protecting eyes from harmful UV rays.

Impact Resistance: This is the ability of the material to withstand sudden forces or shocks. A high impact resistance is crucial for applications such as safety helmets or motorcycle windshields which are typically made from high-impact plastics like polycarbonate.

Strength: Strength encompasses tensile strength (resistance to pulling forces), compressive strength (resistance to compression), and flexural strength (resistance to bending). For example, PET has high tensile strength making it an excellent choice for water bottles that need to resist deformation under the pressure of their contents.

Transparency: If your application requires visibility, then a plastic with good optical clarity is necessary. For example, acrylic offers excellent transparency and UV resistance and is popular for aquariums and signage.

Weatherability: In outdoor applications, plastics must withstand environmental factors, including UV light, temperature fluctuations, wind, and precipitation. For instance, PVC is a popular choice for outdoor furniture due to its excellent weatherability.

Chemical Resistance: If the plastic is to be used in an environment where it will be exposed to chemicals, oils, or solvents, it needs to resist these substances. Due to its broad chemical resistance, PVC is often used in chemical storage and transport applications.

Temperature Resistance: Plastics used in high or low-temperature environments should maintain their properties within these conditions. Nylon, for instance, finds application in engine components due to its high-temperature resistance.

Matching these properties to your application’s specific needs is important to ensure the end product’s best performance and longevity.

Applications of UV-Resistant Plastics in Custom Manufacturing

UV-resistant plastics are essential in many industries, from automotive to construction, and their applications are vast. Here are some common examples:

Outdoor Fixtures and Housings: UV-resistant plastics like PVC and polycarbonate are widely used to construct outdoor fixtures and housings. This could include everything from outdoor light fixtures to enclosures for electronics, where resistance to sun damage is critical.

Signs, Displays, and Letters: UV resistance is vital for outdoor signage and displays to maintain color and structural integrity over time. Acrylic is a popular choice due to its excellent UV resistance, optical clarity, and the variety of colors it’s available in.

uv resistant plastic in automotive
UV-Resistant Plastic in Automotive

Automotive and Aircraft Components: Parts like headlight lenses, windshields, and other external components must withstand UV exposure without discoloring or losing strength. Polycarbonate and acrylic are commonly used in these applications for their transparency, impact resistance, and UV resistance.

Skylights and Windows: In residential and commercial buildings, skylights and windows often use UV-resistant plastics like acrylic or polycarbonate. These materials provide the necessary light transmission and insulation while resisting UV-induced degradation and discoloration.

Conclusion and Summary

In conclusion, UV-resistant plastics provide a vital advantage in custom manufacturing. By understanding the impact of UV radiation on plastics and how different materials resist it, we can make more informed choices that improve our products’ lifespan, aesthetic appeal, and performance.

Utilizing UV-resistant plastics means creating functional, visually appealing, and enduring products. Remember, every project’s success starts with an informed choice of materials. With the right knowledge and a reliable custom manufacturing service at your disposal, your products will truly stand the test of time, shining under the sun without a hitch.

Professional UV-Resistant Plastic CNC Machining Shop – AT-Machining

Specializing in machining UV-resistant plastics, “AT-Machining” is a CNC service provider based in China offering precision with tolerances up to +/- 0.0002 in. (±0.005mm). We are proficient in 3 to 5-axis CNC milling, CNC turning, and Swiss lathe machining. We work with a wide range of UV-resistant materials such as polycarbonate, acrylic, PET, PVC, and polyamides, suitable for numerous industries, including automotive, aerospace, and more.

plastic cnc machining services
Plastic CNC Machining Services

Alongside our primary machining services, we provide secondary offerings like metal finishing, grinding, welding, and EDM. AT-Machining is well-equipped to handle any project scale, from prototype to mass-production volumes, offering comprehensive, custom solutions to our global clientele. With AT-Machining, you’re choosing quality, precision, and dedicated expertise.

FAQs About UV-Resistant Plastic

Can the UV resistance of plastic be enhanced?

Yes, the UV resistance of plastic can be enhanced through the use of hindered amine light stabilizers (HALS). HALS are chemical additives that are commonly incorporated into plastics like polypropylene, polyethylene, and PVC during manufacturing. They work by neutralizing free radicals formed when plastics are exposed to UV radiation from sunlight. By absorbing UV rays and preventing photodegradation reactions, HALS allows plastics to retain their mechanical, chemical, and physical properties during prolonged outdoor exposure. The concentration and type of HALS additives can be tailored to achieve the desired level of UV protection. In addition to using HALS-enhanced plastics, UV-resistant coatings can also be applied to plastic surfaces to absorb and deflect UV rays. Both additive stabilizers like HALS and UV-resistant coatings help prolong the usable lifespan of plastics used in outdoor applications.

Is UV-resistant plastic more expensive than regular plastic?

While UV-resistant plastics can sometimes be more expensive due to the added cost of UV stabilizers or specific manufacturing processes, they can also result in cost savings in the long run. This is because UV-resistant plastics typically have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance when used in applications involving exposure to sunlight.

Are all plastics UV-resistant?

No, not all plastics are UV-resistant. Some plastics can quickly degrade if exposed to UV radiation if unprotected. However, several types of UV-resistant plastics are available, such as polycarbonate, acrylic, PET, PVC, and polyamides, each offering varying degrees of UV resistance.

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Hey there, I’m Sam!

From AT-Machining, I’m a CNC Machining Expert in this field for more than 20 years.  We offer cost-effective machining services from China. Ask for a quote for your ongoing or upcoming projects now!

Best Regards, Sam, Co-Founder

AT Machining

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