Polycarbonate or ABS

Hi All,

I am trying to finish a project I started a while back. I would like to use a material similar to this product made by Room Essentials and sold at Target. I am not sure if the opaque section of this tray is made of polycarbonate or ABS, and the base almost feels like silicone. The finish is quite nice for an everyday household product.

Let me know what you think. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you :slight_smile:

Extremely, extremely tough to figure out which it may be through only photos. Are you working with an engineer? I would work with a plastics expert to decide which to used based on your needs. I used to work designing plastic processing equipment and it was amazing when I started out how one type of plastic can vary so much with look and feel. My advice is to understand the look and feel as well as mechanical properties you’re trying to achieve, and seek advice based on that. Having samples are a great start. There is a way to burn plastic and identify by smell, but I would highly advise against that.

Maybe it’s PC/ABS. Best of both worlds :wink:

As mentioned you wouldn’t be able to tell from that info provided. Since the clear part it’s stuck to is likely PC, one could guess that it would also be PC. Either way, if you are building a similar product your molding house will be able to provide specific materials and recommendations.

If teh bottom is indeed silicone, the clear part is most likely PC. Silicone sticks best to PC over most every other plastic.

Appreciate all your answers! I can’t remember if I read or heard a long time ago that there were a 1000 new plastics developed a year or every few years, so it would make sense that it is a difficult task to determine exactly the kind of plastic they (Room Essentials) are using. I simply wanted to have a rough idea of the kind material I am looking to use for my project.

I agree with you, I have personally worked with Plastic Engineers in the past and I have found their technical expertise to be invaluable. I may have to go that route if everything else fails. I am definitely shooting for something that feels nice to the touch. Finally, burning plastic is a big no no, but thanks for the advice.

I would rather use PC if possible especially and as iab mentioned that “Silicone sticks the best to PC”. I just wanted to make easier for the supplier to know what I am trying to accomplish. Bottom line, I may have to send them the actual product for reference.

Thanks for the info regarding Silicone and PC. The bottom part does feel like silicone to the touch, but sounds like plastic though. The finish is definitely not shiny, more like a matte one.

I have already gathered a short list of potential suppliers, and all I have to do now is to get hold of them and find out what works best.

If the bottom part feels firmer than silicone it is likely a TPE material. TPE’s are more common especially in two shot parts.

^^^ Correct.

ABS + TPE = cheap
Silicone + PC = $$$

Plus molding silicone needs to be a highly segregated process. If the part in the OP doesn’t have a specialty purpose, it seems to me Target would focus on pricepoint.

The bottom part feels rubbery but not as soft to the touch as some Silicone materials. I think that you are definitely right to say that it is likely a TPE, especially if it is more common for two shot parts.

What you said makes a lot of sense when comparing both equations. The first one would definitely be aligned with Target’s pricing strategy.

I think this is a good start in terms of material selection, and I will introduce these two materials in my future communication with the suppliers.

Thank you all! :slight_smile:

Farined, the easiest way to determine which plastic it is is looking for a triangle icon on the part with the corresponding number.
That is legally required at least in the EU.

I would say it is a TPE given it is more rubbery and economy-wise.

The translucent part can also be a PP, common in thin-walled household items.
You can also specify the density by submerging a part in water and different oils.


Unfortunately, there is no triangle icon or corresponding number anywhere on the product. Looks like the verdict is in; we are dealing with with a combination of either ABS/TPE, or PP/TPE. I think all this information will give the suppliers a pretty good idea of what I am looking for in this current project.

Thanks for the tip! I’ll keep that in mind if the need ever arises in the future.

Sounds like it could also be a ‘hard’ plastic with a soft touch coating applied afterwards


I will be in touch with the suppliers some time in a week or two from now. I will keep your information in mind when discussing the matter with them. Thanks!

You can identify soft touch coating because it has zero “give” if you push in with it with your fingernail - compared to a TPE which is stiff, but still flexible. Also if you take something abrasive to it, the outer soft paint will scrape off fairly easily and you won’t see any physical step for the part line, it will just look like a painted part.


There is no"give" when I press with my fingernail, and as Wosh said it probably is a hard plastic with a coating applied to it. I hope the suppliers I will be talking to will be able to guide me in selecting the proper material based on the functionality/look of the product.