07 Sep 2022

Durable Plastic Product Designs

Plastic parts need to be durable enough to handle the stress and wear and tear that the final product will go through when a consumer uses it. Using a gusset structure, rib parts, the right materials, and thick enough walls will give the plastic product the durability it requires. These are all aspects that we take into consideration in our plastic product design.

Gussets: What Is a Gusset?

What is a gusset? A gusset structure is built into parts to strengthen them. A gusset is a wedge-shaped support built against walls or other structural components. They help distribute weight so that parts won’t break when under stress. They also connect support features to the floor of a part.

A custom designed part for a GPS to show the gussets used to in plastic product design

Gussets provide structural integrity by fitting into a right angle. The image above is of a GPS cover part that we made. Four gussets can be seen inside the innermost wall, supporting the inside of the plus-shaped wall. We can design a part to place gussets where they will not be seen in the end product, depending on the needs of your product. 

Ribs: Purpose of Ribs

Rib parts add to the structural integrity of walls or other support features, the same as gussets. The purpose of ribs is to connect support features. They are thin, straight walls that create a bridge between larger walls or other structures. The location of ribs will depend on which wall needs to be stronger.

A custom plastic piece with ribs to show plastic product design

Above is an image of the other side of the GPS cover. There are ribs connecting the four round structures in the center to the surrounding walls. This is just one example of how ribs can be used. Rib parts can be designed to fit in many different patterns or shapes, adding structural integrity to any part that needs it. 

Fillets & Radii

Fillets and Fillet radii help to strengthen corners where ribs, walls, and gussets meet. When two walls meet at a right angle, there is a sharp transition from one wall to the next. This can make the part more susceptible to breaking. The purpose of a fillet is to make that internal corner more rounded, allowing a smoother, stronger connection between walls. The size of the fillet will depend on the part. Just like every other support structure, such as gussets and ribs, fillets need to be large enough to provide enough support but not so large that they create a sink in the part. One important part of our plastic product design is creating a durable part that still maintains its intended appearance.

Durable Materials for Plastic Product Design

There are many different types of plastic material to create a part out of. For parts that need to be more durable, there are several different materials that can be useful. 

  • ABS is a tough, inexpensive option. The downside is that it does not hold up well to sunlight or weathering, so indoor applications are best. 
  • Polycarbonate is more expensive, but it is a stiff, durable material that can also be transparent. 
  • Nylon is heat-resistant and is often used in mechanical applications such as gears, bearings, and bushings.
  • TPEs can be durable when used in products like tubes, seals, or other rubber-like applications. TPU, a form of TPE, is even stronger and offers great resistance to chemicals and heat but is less flexible. 

These are just some of the materials that we can use in plastic product design. There are many options to help meet your product’s specific needs.

Wall Thickness

Sometimes, adding support to parts can help strengthen them. In some cases, simply making the walls thicker can provide all of the durability needed. Larger parts with thicker walls can risk sinking before the part cools down after leaving the mold. But with smaller parts, wall thickness can make the whole part tougher. With larger parts, depending on which wall needs to be stronger, gussets and ribs can help add support. Below is an example of a part that does not require any gussets or ribs for added durability. 

custom plastic parts

Work with Rex Plastic’s Experts in Plastic Product Design

We have over 50 years of experience in injection molding. In the plastic product design process, our engineers can work closely with you in plastic part design, creating a final product that is durable, functional, and attractive. Reach out to us for a quote today!