Plastics 101 for the Sourcing Dept

Is there a good website that has really really basic info on plastics processes,types, etc. - like ‘Plastics for dummies’ ???

I work in-house at a company which deals primarily with ceramics- Our sourcing dept is most familiar with ceramics, cast or stamped metal…but as a whole, lacks a real understanding of plastics and the related choices about quality/characteristics/cost decisions which we all learn as industrial designers. I took years of classes about this stuff- but short of teaching the class I’d love to point them in the right direction…


I think this might be better suited in the Materials section or the General Design Discussion section.

Yo - maybe he’s looking at a student ressource site, not too techincal terminology. Anyway, if you feel like it, move the thread I guess.
but here’s a link: - the A to Z Of Materials

maybe this will get more love in here - moved from the student’s section

You should try visiting .This site might help you![/quote]

It depends on what type of information you’re looking for, but I created some pages a while ago to give designers a basic understanding of injection molding:

There’s a section with design guides you can download.

There are materials databases online like and, but they may be too much for someone in purchasing looking for basic info.

Hope this helps,


I have another source for you. It is from an engineering school apparently, but there is some really great stuff on this site.

Handy Plastics Reference

Here is your comprehensive—and free—guide to plastics design

Joseph Ogando
Design News
February 17, 2005

Want to know more about designing with plastics? Bayer
MaterialScience engineers can help. They recently distilled their
collective knowledge about plastic part and mold design into a free
guide available both on the web and on paper.

At 175-pages, the guide covers nearly everything you need to know about designing and manufacturing a plastic part. To make materials selection easier, it starts off with guidelines for determining a plastic part’s performance requirements. Topics here include mechanical loading,
temperature effects, chemical exposure, electrical properties,
dimensional tolerances, agency ratings, and more.

goes on to cover part design fundamentals—topics such as wall thickness requirements, ribs, draft angles, corners, radii, undercuts, molded-in threads, and holes. Next come sections covering structural design, design for assembly, machining, finishing, painting, and plating. The guide continues with a chapter on mold design.

Two of these sections really stand out. “The sections on structural
design and mold design contain information that you rarely, if ever, run
across elsewhere,” says Mark Yeager, the guide’s primary author and a
principal design engineer at Bayer MaterialScience. The structural
design section, for instance, offers clear guidance on designing around
creep. And the mold design segment provides detailed instructions on the sizing and location of gates and runners. It also explains the potential
part defects that result from gate and runner mistakes. “We put a lot of
meat in the mold design,” Yeager notes.

Finally, the guide concludes with a handy part-design checklist. Just
one page long, it can help you quickly review the key design tasks
required for a successful plastic part. Yeager notes that this checklist
was originally developed for Bayer’s own design engineers to use as they evaluated customer designs. “The last thing we want to do would be
forget something,” he says.

Much of the content in the guide isn’t brand new, but it has been hard
to come by in the past. Until recently, Bayer used the information
internally and distributed it to select customers. And the guide didn’t
appear on any public web site. Now, any engineer who wants it can get
it. Just go to After a quick registration process—one without any password to remember—you can view or download the entire guide in PDF format. A hard copy will also be mailed to you automatically.

Sorry, the link in the previous post doesn’t work. Try this:


Just got a copy of the design guide from the previous post link. It looks really informative to someone starting out, trying to understand manufacturing processe for injection molded plastics.

The book came in two weeks after I requested it.