Best uses for flexible plastic sheeting - 3D Insider (2023)

3D Insider is ad-supported and earns money through clicks, sales commissions, and other means.

A major reason that plastic has long endured as a staple in modern manufacturing is its sheer versatility. By processing plastic into different shapes, it can have different physical properties that make it suitable for different applications.

One form factor where plastic is commonly used is flex plates. These are wide plastic sheets that are deliberately rolled to have good flexibility while maintaining an acceptable level of strength. What types of plastic are used as flexible sheets and how are they used?

arts and crafts

Best uses for flexible plastic sheeting - 3D Insider (1)

One has to look at industrial scale applications to realize just how useful plastic sheeting can be. If you like to do arts and crafts projects at home, you may already be using flexible plastic sheeting.

The most common example of this is printable films made of PPC (polypropylene carbonate). They can be printed with standard inkjet printers and are a great and easy way to create signs, greeting cards, documents and other promotional materials. PPC films can be made clear or matte for a unique aesthetic appeal.

Mylar film is often used to provide a protective layer to preserve artwork. Mylar is a polyester film registered by Dupont. It has excellent thermal and chemical resistance, does not break easily and does not yellow over time.

A useful property of flexible plastic sheets is that they can easily absorb an adhesive. This makes instant creation easy.stickersusing a double-sided adhesive film. Making custom stickers is not only useful for art projects, but it can also be an incredibly fun activity for kids.

Speaking of fun, one of the most engaging art pursuits is making designer pieces out of shrink wrap. Usually made of PVC, shrink wrap shrinks when exposed to high temperatures. This makes any printed or drawn piece look better due to the richer colors and better resolution.

automotive applications

Best uses for flexible plastic sheeting - 3D Insider (2)

Flexible plastic sheets are found in almost every car. They are not only aesthetic, plastic sheets are also functional.

There is a wide variety of different types of flexible plastic sheeting used in the automotive industry. Polyolefins like HDPE and PP are used to coat or laminate various automotive parts. They have good electrical properties, resist distortion when exposed to high temperatures, and have excellent chemical resistance. PP foils are generally used to cover meters due to their clarity of contact. Polyolefins are robust and easy to handle, allowing easy application to surfaces with complex geometries.

Aesthetics is of course an important thing when it comes to cars. Many of the trims and decorations normally seen on automobiles are applied to sheets of flexible plastic. There are several different ways to do this. Plastic sheeting can be printed or metallized to create a more "reflective" look.

Laser cut plastic sheets have gained popularity among car enthusiasts. With laser cutting technology, laminated plastic sheets can have very intricate designs that would be difficult to copy by hand. Almost all digital designs can be reproduced with a laser cutting machine andcnc program. Laser cutting is a very fast process that can even cut multiple sheets of plastic simultaneously.


Best uses for flexible plastic sheeting - 3D Insider (3)

Greenhouses are a very traditional way of using flexible plastic sheeting. Although many greenhouses today already use rigid polycarbonate walls, most still prefer the practicality of using flexible sheets, which are cheaper and can be easily removed.

Why is plastic the preferred material for greenhouses? Compared to glass, plastic has better insulating properties and allows for better heat retention. The more translucent plastic sheeting is often used in greenhouses precisely because it tends to disperse more sunlight. This results in more uniform heating in the greenhouse. There are even versions of plastic sheets that have been deliberately flooded with air bubbles to increase the diffusivity of the material.

Of course, it also helps that plastic sheets are so much cheaper than glass. Not only is the material itself expensive, but covering the plastic sheeting and cutting it to size requires a lot less work. When made thick enough, flexible plastic sheeting is durable and strong enough to withstand outdoor conditions, even in all four seasons.

Due to economics and benefits, the use of plastic greenhouse wrap has been around for decades. Most flexible plastic sheeting made today is designed to last more than ten years and can be reused year after year.

decorative plates

Best uses for flexible plastic sheeting - 3D Insider (4)

Flexible plastic sheets do not need to be clear or transparent. In interior design, printed PVC sheets provide a convenient way to add visual flair to any space. PVC sheeting is durable, customizable, inexpensive, and easy to apply.

PVC sheets are incredibly versatile. They can be printed with patterns that simulate more traditional architectural materials such as wood, leather, or marble. They can even be laminated in a way that gives them texture, giving PVC sheets a premium feel.

PVC is a naturally strong plastic that can resist wear and tear damage. Some manufacturers even enhance their PVC sheets by adding anti-UV, fire retardant, or flexibility-increasing compounds.

For clear glass interiors, a thin layer of flexible PVC sheet can help give a frosted appearance. This is perfect for private offices, conference rooms, or showers.

PVC sheets have been used as a replacement for traditional tiles or wallpaper. They come in pre-cut portions which make them very easy to make. Being inexpensive and less permanent than tile, PVC sheets are perfect for homeowners who like to repaint their homes every few years.

Medical and dental applications

Best uses for flexible plastic sheeting - 3D Insider (5)

In the field of healthcare, flexible plastic sheets are everywhere. They overlay the X-rays to protect the image so doctors can make charts and notes. PVC sheets are also used to cover hospital beds and pillows as they are easier to change and wash. Flexible acrylic sheets are used to make PPE such as face shields and goggles.

Plastic has some properties that make it useful in the medical industry. They are tough enough to withstand continuous use, can conform to complex geometries, can withstand temperatures required for autoclaving, provide an effective barrier against moisture and bodily fluids, and are easily washed and reused.

Unsurprisingly, a flexible plastic wrap must meet a higher set of standards to be suitable for use in a medical setting. This may include treatment with a fire retardant compound or certification that the plastic does not contain phthalates. Even with strict standards, a wide variety of plastics have been used in the medical industry for decades. These include acetate, PETG, PEEK, PVC, and polycarbonate, among a few dozen more.

final thoughts

how we coverin a previous article, flexible plastic sheets can be composed of many different types of plastic and reinforced with a wide range of additives. This has made them quite valuable in many industries. Plastic sheets are not only versatile, but also have excellent workability and are very economical.

Flexible plastic sheets can be printed, molded to any geometry, and withstand extreme conditions. Combine this with the additive-enhanced properties and you have another form of plastic that will undoubtedly remain relevant for years to come. We only hope that the time will come when plastic alternatives can match the utility of real plastic.


Best uses for flexible plastic sheeting - 3D Insider? ›

Polyvinyl Chloride (aka PVC or vinyl) is one of the wildly used plastic material for versatile workability, great chemical resistance, waterproof and lightweight features. It is an excellent material for inflatable products, waterproof textile, curtains, protection covers, stationery, to construction material, etc.

What is flexible PVC sheet used for? ›

Polyvinyl Chloride (aka PVC or vinyl) is one of the wildly used plastic material for versatile workability, great chemical resistance, waterproof and lightweight features. It is an excellent material for inflatable products, waterproof textile, curtains, protection covers, stationery, to construction material, etc.

What is flexible plastic used for? ›

Flexible Plastics and Accepted Materials

Plastic wrappers for candy, cheese slices, granola bars, etc. Crinkly plastic packaging for dry pasta, pre-packaged deli meats, etc. Plastic net bags for fruit, onions, avocados, etc. Non-food protective packaging (e.g., all-plastic shipping envelopes, air packets, etc.

What can I do with plastic sheeting? ›

General Uses for Plastic Sheeting

If something needs to be covered- Food, equipment, floors, walls, furniture, plants, dirt, scratches, If something needs to be protected from something else like dust, rain, paint, debris, vapor barrier, roots, UV rays, fire, static, damage from shipping.

What is bendable plastic called? ›

LDPE (low density polyethylene) is a soft, flexible, lightweight plastic material.

What is the difference between PVC and flexible PVC? ›

The most notable difference is this: flexible PVC compounds have plasticiser added to them, while rigid ones have little to none. This plasticizer makes the PVC resin more flexible, which means it's soft and supple in comparison. You'll see these “rubbery” characteristics in the likes of garden hosepipes.

How long does flexible PVC last? ›

As one of the most-used plumbing materials, PVC pipe is known for being very durable and long-lasting. In fact, PVC pipes last approximately 100 years.

What is the disadvantage of flexible plastic? ›

Disadvantages Of Flexible Packaging
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures could affect the integrity of the package.
  • More difficult to package with fewer co-packers who handle these containers.
  • Limited shapes and package sizes due to rigidity constraints.
  • Not as durable or chemical resistant as rigid packaging.

What is the most durable flexible plastic? ›

One of the industry's strongest, most durable, and most chemically resistant plastic sheet is high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

What products is flexible PVC used to make? ›

Common applications in which Flexible PVC is used include:
  • Wire & Cable Jacketing.
  • Pool Liners.
  • Flooring.
  • Garden Hoses.
  • Rainwear & Boots.
  • Medical Tubing.
  • Automotive Interior Trim.
  • Plumbing.

Can you use plastic sheeting instead of house wrap? ›

You can use plastic if you put polyethylene between your drywall and the wall studs. This way, you should get a tighter wall without trapping moisture inside the exterior walls. If you are framing out a below-grade basement, however, do not use plastic as a vapor barrier.

What is 4 mil plastic sheeting used for? ›

Our 4-mil plastic sheeting is a multipurpose film perfect for a wide variety of construction or DIY projects. This medium-duty plastic sheeting is commonly used as a vapor barrier in between insulation and drywall, used as a drop cloth or a temporary cover for equipment and supplies.

What is 6 mil plastic sheeting used for? ›

6 mil plastic sheeting is usually an excellent sheeting thickness for tasks such as covering items during a remodel, construction enclosures, remediation covers, and even greenhouse covers.

Which plastic can be bent repeatedly without breaking? ›

Polypropylene is uniquely adept for living hinges because it does not break when repeatedly bent.

What is the strongest bendable material? ›

Graphene is flexible, elastic and stronger than anything we have seen before. This combination of strength and light weight will allow the Army to carry equipment weighing less than it does now and with the same protection.

What type of plastic is stretchy? ›

Flexible plastics like polyethylene and polypropylene are different from rigid plastics in that they're easier to stretch (so their tensile strength is lower), but they tend not to break. Interestingly, the ability to stretch is what keeps them from breaking.

What is the most flexible PVC? ›

One of the strongest and most flexible products on the market, Ultra Flex PVC is perfect for use in pond, water garden and fountain applications. Designed with a tighter, rigid spiral within a more flexible wall, we are able to provide a pipe that is an installers dream.

What is a flexible alternative to PVC? ›

PEX Pipe. PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is a durable plastic piping that's used to supply water. It is rigid enough to withstand the pressures of water supply but flexible enough to weave throughout walls, ceilings, basements, and crawlspaces. It is also far less expensive compared to many other piping materials.

Is flexible PVC strong? ›

In addition, flexible PVC pipe is more resistant to breaking and damage from freezing temperatures. As a result, flexible PVC pipe is the best choice for new pool construction projects. It is stronger and more durable than rigid PVC pipe because it does not need that many PVC fittings.

Can flexible PVC be glued? ›

YES! Both Sch 40 and Sch 80 fittings will glue to Flexible PVC pipe using standard PVC glue and primer. Cut the pipe, prime both the pipe and fitting, glue both pipe and fitting and stick them together. That's it.

Can you use flexible PVC in a house? ›

The flexible PVC tubing is also often used in conjunction with rigid PVC piping because it can be bent around corners without the need for barbed fittings or valves. Flexible PVC pipes are used in residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural applications.

Does PVC get brittle in the sun? ›

Basically, PVC pipe exposed to sunlight can discolor and become hardened or slightly more brittle on the outer surface of the pipe, but the pipe itself has no adverse changes with installation and its ability to carry loads, if handled and installed properly.

What is the advantage of flexible material? ›

Flexible packaging can go places that other packaging cannot. It is easy to open, carry, reseal, and store! You can easily throw it in your bag and take it with you on the go. Since it is lightweight and easy to store, it also saves space in your kitchen and throughout other areas of your home.

Why are flexible plastics hard to recycle? ›

Part of the problem is their multi-layered composition that is sometimes lined with foil, making it very expensive to separate into recyclable parts. Flexible packaging is also often "super-contaminated" with food waste, which also makes it impossible to recycle, noted Defruyt.

What are the pros and cons of flexible packaging? ›

-They are often less expensive than rigid packaging materials. -Flexible packaging materials can help to protect products from damage during transportation and storage. Cons: -Flexible packaging materials may not be suitable for products that require a rigid structure.

What is the longest lasting plastic? ›

Polyethylene Terephthalate

It takes anywhere from 70 to 400 years for this type of material to degrade in the landfill.

What is the hardest plastic sheet? ›

Polycarbonate (PC)

Polycarbonate is the toughest plastic out there, at more than 20 times stronger than acrylic and 200 times stronger than glass.

What is the most damaging plastic? ›

On the flip side, we must note that PVC is the most dangerous plastic to human health, known to leach dangerous toxins throughout its entire lifecycle (eg: lead, dioxins, vinyl chloride).

Can flexible PVC be used for sewer? ›

Flexible PVC pipe is often used in applications where it needs to be bent or curved, such as in drain lines and irrigation systems. Rigid PVC pipe is most often used in DWV (drain-waste-vent) systems and for sewer lines.

Is flexible PVC sun resistant? ›

The quick and easy answer is, no, not really. PVC does surprisingly well when exposed to ultra violet rays (sunlight). Research shows little to no effect on PVC's tensile strength or elasticity after prolonged sun exposure. The only degradation that seems to occur is impact strength.

What happens when you burn vinyl chloride? ›

When burned or heated to a high enough temperature, vinyl chloride decomposes to hydrogen chloride, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and traces of phosgene. Vinyl chloride should be stored in a cool, dry, well ventilated location, separate from oxidizing materials and accelerants.

When should you not use a vapor barrier? ›

You may find that vapour barriers are often not required in warmer climates. And, if installed in the wrong climate or on the wrong side of building materials, a vapour barrier can cause more harm than good. This circumstance may prevent water vapour from drying, which in turn can cause rot and mold.

Can plastic sheeting be used as insulation? ›

People often wonder if plastic films, often referred to as “mylar” films, can be used in electrical insulation, and the answer is yes!

Should I put plastic behind drywall? ›

Without poly beneath the drywall, water vapor hits the drywall and diffuses through to the drier (in summer) indoor air. By installing a sheet of poly there, you cut off that drying mechanism and water that finds its way into walls can stay there longer and do more damage.

What is 10 mil plastic sheeting used for? ›

This 10 mil thick plastic sheeting can be used in multiple applications. It can be used to cover and protect surfaces when painting or curing concrete. As a vapor barrier in interior walls or in crawl spaces.

Which is better 4 mil or 6 mil plastic? ›

4 MIL - Heavy duty protection when packaging nails, screws & heavy metal parts. 6 MIL - Extra heavy duty protection against punctures and tears on bulky items or items with sharp corners.

What is thicker 2 mil or 4 mil plastic sheeting? ›

The bigger the number of mils, the thicker the plastic sheeting. Here are some approximations with common items to help you understand. Four (4) mil plastic sheeting is about as thick as a piece of paper.

How long will 6 mil plastic last outside? ›

6 mil plastic could survive the sun for up to 3 years. Fifty eight years later 6 mil poly is still used by the budget conscious grower. This film will get you by. The downside to 6 mil is bad weather (wind, snow load, hail), and strong sun.

How thick is 8 mil plastic sheeting? ›

8 Mil Clear Plastic Sheeting - . 008 inches thick plastic sheeting engineered from low-density polyethylene.

Which is thicker 6 mil or 8 mil? ›

The bigger the number the thicker the plastic. Plastic sheeting comes in ranges from 1 mil to 100 mils!

Which plastic Cannot be broken? ›

Most plastics in use today are made of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET for short, and are nearly indestructible. It is nearly impossible to decompose PET plastics because most bacteria cannot break them down.

What is the fastest biodegrading plastic? ›

PLA decomposes into water and carbon dioxide in 47 to 90 days -- four times faster than a PET-based bag floating in the ocean. But conditions have to be just right to achieve these kinds of results. PLA breaks down most efficiently in commercial composting facilities at high temperatures.

What plastic can only be heated and shaped once? ›

Thermoset plastics are a type of polymer that can be heated and molded only once; if reheated, they burn. These cross-linked polymers harden during their formation and do not soften when heated, in fact, they are able to withstand high temperatures.

What is a cheap flexible material? ›

The cheap & sturdy materials that will bend & can be made to stay in the bent shape is “bamboo”.

What is the lightest but strongest material on earth? ›

In addition to being the most thermally conductive material in the world, graphene is also the thinnest, lightest and strongest material ever obtained because of its two-dimensional form.

What is the strongest and most flexible rubber? ›

Nitrile. Nitrile (also known as Buna-N) is a copolymer of butadiene and acrylonitrile and one of the strongest rubber materials in applications involving oil and fuel.

What plastic can hold the most weight? ›

The strongest type of plastic bag is made of HDPE, or high density polyethylene.

What is the difference between elastic and elastic plastic? ›

The main difference between the elastic and the plastic material is the behavior of their structures. Elastic materials will break when they reach their elastic limit whereas the plastic material will not break.

Where can flexible PVC conduit be used? ›

This Flexible, Non-Metallic PVC Liquid Tight conduit, commonly referred to as NM Liquid Tight, flexible conduit, Non-Metallic PVC, Flex PVC and PVC Electrical Conduit is perfect for use in multiple applications for electrical, telephone, cable, HVAC, Refrigeration, landscape lighting and more.

What is a flexible PVC? ›

Definition. Polyvinyl chloride is produced by the polymerization of the vinyl chloride monomer. Flexible PVC is made with the addition of plasticizers which allows for a softer, more malleable material that is often used in applications where it can replace rubber.

What is the most common use of flexible conduit? ›

Flexible conduit systems are generally used to encase wires, helping to reduce the risks of electrical hazards, such as electrocution. Liquid-tight conduits, for instance, are covered in a watertight plastic coating that in combination with the IP67 rated liquid-tight fittings, protects cables against water damage.

When should you use flexible conduit? ›

Liquid tight, flexible, non-metallic conduit (LFNC) is suitable for use in dry, wet, or oily locations. It can be used in indoor or outdoor environments for industrial and commercial applications. Typical uses include ground burial, HVAC units, pools and spas.

What are four applications of a flexible conduit? ›

Metal flexible conduit is suitable for use in systems for electrical power, communication cables, motor leads, listed assemblies, wire fixtures, and manufactured wiring systems.

Is flexible PVC good? ›

Flexible PVC pipes are a great option for any project that needs to be done. The material is highly durable and flexible. It can withstand high pressures, which means that it will be able to last for a long time. You will also find that the pipes are affordable and easy to install, which is really beneficial for you.

Can you bury flexible PVC conduit? ›

Good news – yes! Thanks to their flexibility and mechanical resistance flexible conduits can be installed underground to protect utilities against damage, tampering and weathering.. Flexible conduits come in extremely useful and offer a host of safety features, including corrosion, flame and water resistance.

Can you use PVC to run water lines? ›

When it comes to residential water lines, PVC is the most common type used. Not only is this type affordable but it also offers a large variety of sizes and fittings. Due to its polyvinyl material, this type of pipe will not rust or corrode and it should not ever need to be replaced.

Is PVC OK to use for water lines? ›

PVC pipes are the most well-known plastic pipe, but it has some major drawbacks. If that pipe transports water as hot as 140 *F, it can warp and break down. You should avoid using PVC pipes for your main drinking water.

What is the best glue for flexible PVC? ›

The best adhesives for bonding PVC (plasticised) are cyanoacrylates or UV-curing adhesives. Permabond offers flexible grades of cyanoacrylates such as Permabond 2050 and Permabond 731. These adhesives are ideal for bonds where flexibility needs to be maintained.

What PVC is the most flexible? ›

One of the strongest and most flexible products on the market, Ultra Flex PVC is perfect for use in pond, water garden and fountain applications. Designed with a tighter, rigid spiral within a more flexible wall, we are able to provide a pipe that is an installers dream. This is not a “thin wall” pipe.

How do you make PVC a flexible plastic that is used is called? ›

To make PVC a flexible plastic, the additive used is called Plasticizer.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Maia Crooks Jr

Last Updated: 12/01/2024

Views: 6131

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Maia Crooks Jr

Birthday: 1997-09-21

Address: 93119 Joseph Street, Peggyfurt, NC 11582

Phone: +2983088926881

Job: Principal Design Liaison

Hobby: Web surfing, Skiing, role-playing games, Sketching, Polo, Sewing, Genealogy

Introduction: My name is Maia Crooks Jr, I am a homely, joyous, shiny, successful, hilarious, thoughtful, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.