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Fueling the Economy with Performance Plastics
by IAPD Editorial Committee
Performance plastics play a key role in the energy boom, making it easier to reach previously untapped sources of oil and gas to fuel the economy. You can find performance plastics in applications such as piston, chevron and gland seals, anti-extrusion rings and back-up rings, valve seats, packings, bushings, bearings, lantern rings, fracballs, labyrinth seals, down-hole electrical insulators, gaskets, lifting systems components (such as sheaves, rollers, guides), shrouds, sight glasses, pipe and pipe support systems (such as saddles and carrier rings) and grating/stairs.

Using performance plastics instead of other materials offer numerous advantages, such as:

  • Reduced weight and lower cost than traditional materials
  • Better sealing performance
  • Greater design flexibility
  • Can handle harsh environments, from downhole heat to arctic conditions to subsea systems
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Improved efficiencies (sealing properties, coefficient of friction)
  • Easier to machine, ship and install
  • Reduce/eliminate lubrication dependency
  • Excellent electrical insulation properties
  • Static dissipative and conductive grades available
  • Less wear on mating parts
Fueling the Economy
Success story

IAPD member Cast Nylons Ltd. shared this success story about the use of performance plastics in oil pump jacks. Bronze is typically used in saddle and center bearings on oil pump jacks. However, constant exposure to hydrocarbons, ultraviolet light and harsh soil conditions can cause rust and pitting on the mating surfaces. To counteract this, the bearings are lubricated, which tends to dry out without regular use. Once dried out, the bearings’ capacity and efficiency are greatly reduced, which prohibits a smooth range of motion.

Replacing those bearings with a self-lubricating cast nylon material in pump jack equipment is a better solution. These bearings maintain a high load capacity even in corrosive and harsh environments. Plus, the cast nylon is less expensive and lighter than heavier metals such as bronze. They can also withstand heavy use and perform well after sitting idle for an extended period.

Did you know?
Even small percentage efficiencies gained by replacing metallic labyrinth turbocompressor seals with abradable or wear-resistant polymeric seals can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased production. That sounds like hundreds of thousands of great reasons to go with performance plastics for these applications.