When making a large purchase, consumers are looking for quality, longevity, and functionality. If faced with the choice between a plastic or metal version of an item, most would think metal would be the better, more durable option. As a result, when looking to purchase a PCR workstation or ductless fume hood, many people feel that they need to purchase a stainless-steel hood. Not only is this not the case, but in some applications, plastic may yield better results and have a longer lifespan than a metal body construction or worksurface.
There are three ways that plastic outperforms metal, but before we get into it, it is important to understand what separates the plastic used for workstations from the typical plastics encountered in everyday life. The plastic used to construct workstations and hoods is not your run-of-the-mill plastic used to manufacture children’s playthings. AirClean Systems frequently uses lab-grade polypropylene for worksurfaces and building materials, a significantly tougher material than that used to make Ken dolls. Because of its durability, polypropylene is a great option for almost all applications.
Lab-grade polypropylene is chemically impervious, or non-porous. This means that any substance placed on it will not seep into your work surface. Because of this, polypropylene is very easy to clean and disinfect, which will help ensure the integrity of whatever your next project is. Many of the seams on AirClean Systems’ units are thermally welded, making cleanup even easier; there is no chance that any chemicals or substances will wind up in a deep crevice along the back of your workstation. This welded polypropylene construction is available on both operator and process protection offerings.
The fact that polypropylene is chemically impervious also means that it is significantly more resistant to certain substances, like acids, than stainless steel. If using a stainless-steel work surface, rust can become a significant issue requiring constant care and even replacement of the unit in some cases. This is not even a possibility with polypropylene. Because polypropylene is chemically resistant, virtually no commonly used substance can cause corrosion or significant damage to the work surface or structure of the hood.
When working with a ductless unit, the blower is often rather noisy and can be distracting. If the unit is also made of stainless steel, then it vibrates significantly, causing even more noise. A polypropylene unit is much quieter, as the plastic absorbs vibrations rather than transferring them. This helps make your workspace quieter and, thus, a bit more pleasant to work in.
Additionally, the fact that polypropylene absorbs and dissipates vibrations has implications for your work. The decreased vibration can result in easier and more accurate weighing; this is especially important when using a balance enclosure like our PowderSafe Ductless Enclosure Series. Less vibration will also give you a more stable surface to work on, like a marble slab. This provides the steadiness you need for high-precision work.
As heat is often used in various applications, many are worried about how polypropylene will hold up against heat as compared with stainless steel. The fear is that polypropylene will not be able to withstand the heat and will simply melt. This is a common misconception. Lab-grade polypropylene can stand up against significant amounts of heat and is actually heat resistant. More importantly, heat sources rarely, if ever, come into direct contact with the work surface. The polypropylene surface will never melt or become damaged from the ambient heat created by a heat source.
Polypropylene can even perform better than stainless steel when dealing with heat simply because it does not conduct heat. So, if you are working with hot items, the work surface will not become hot and add to the heat in your application. The polypropylene surface will lend temperature stability to your application.
Overall, polypropylene is a perfect material for nearly all applications when compared with stainless steel. The non-porous surface makes for easy cleanup and no rust, vibration absorption helps create a quieter environment and makes precision work easier, and it is tough enough to stand up to heat. Consider all the ways a polypropylene workstation can help make your applications a success.