How to Choose the Right Lubricants For Plastic Parts? (2023)

How to Choose the Right Lubricants For Plastic Parts? (1)

Lubricants are essential to increase a plastic part’s lifespan. Today, I’m going to write a detailed piece on choosing the best lubricant for plastic components.

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How to Choose the Right Plastic Lubricant?

Plastic lubricants are essential for greasing or polishing plastic parts to increase their life and reduce power consumption and friction. When choosing a lubricant, the most crucial factor is how compatible it is with the plastic part. Research studies have consistently shown lubricating plastic sliding bearings can increase their life span by four to five times.

Lubricants based on silicone, perfluorinated PFAE, synthetic hydrocarbons (SHC or PAO), and mineral oils generally work nicely with plastics. Esters and polyglycols are generally not compatible with plastic, although there are exceptions based on the type of plastic material.

How to Figure Out the Compatibility of Plastic Parts and Lubricants?

To determine the compatibility between lubricants and plastics, the best way is to observe the changes in the physical properties of plastic material under conditions such as environment, speed, and load. Manufacturers should closely monitor the changes in hardness, strength, elongation, weight, and volume.

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Another important aspect of determining consists of reflecting on your work’s worst possible scenarios while conducting tests because both lubricant and plastic material will be under high temperatures and adverse environments, which will make them change in certain ways.

Choosing an unsuitable lubricant or grease will have a severe effect on plastic parts. Stress-cracking, discoloration, warpage, and losing structural integrity are common scenarios when such mistakes happen.

Criteria for Choosing Best Lubricants for Plastic Parts

How to Choose the Right Lubricants For Plastic Parts? (2)

There are three important criteria to follow for choosing a plastic lubricant:

  • Viscosity
  • Chemistry
  • Aging Resistance

1. Viscocity:

High viscosity chemicals are the best option as lubricants as they give good protection to plastic parts against cracks, piercing, or otherwise any adverse effects. Higher loads would need oils with higher viscosity oils to sustain a lubricant film from start to top; on the other hand, lighter loads require lower viscosity oils to prevent any drag.

2. Chemistry:

A plastic part’s compatibility with lubricants is very much dependent on its chemical structure. The lubricants which work best with plastics are based on perfluorinated PFAE, mineral oils, synthetic hydrocarbons (SHC or PAO), and silicone. Lubricants made from esters and polyglycols are not suitable for most plastics.

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Mixing additives with plastic materials can also lead to an unplanned reaction between the lubricant and plastic. The type of additives being used completely determines the effects. Rigid additives like molybdenum and graphite can pierce and weaken a plastic part; however, PTFE additives, even after having the same rigidness, can be very advantageous in certain cases by providing dry lubrication.

3. Aging Resistance:

Lubricants are highly likely to affect plastic parts as they age. That’s why synthetic lubricants are the best choice for marinating the plastic part for a longer period of time. The key to keeping the plastic in good shape for a longer period of time is to stay away from outgassing byproducts of plastic, specifically formaldehyde and styrene.

Engaging Read –Top 5 Heat Resistant Plastic Materials | A List of High Temp Plastic Materials


How to Choose the Right Lubricants For Plastic Parts? (3)

Without any doubt, the best lubricant for plastic is one that is mineral-oil-based. They give a fantastic performance in typical plastic applications, and most importantly, they don’t attack plastic materials.

However, with the growing trend of rapid prototyping, higher temperatures, longer operations, and faster cycle times, companies are more interested in synthetic lubricants – The best example is hydrocarbon-based lubricants. They offer excellent compatibility with most plastics, good aging resistance, and great long-term lubrication in a temperature range of -51 – 150°C.

Another approachable option is PFAE lubricants. These lubricants are known to provide fabulous compatibility even with plastics considered difficult to match. The ability to provide a good blend between adhesion and plastic surface wetting makes it a prime choice for all lubricants. They are most useful in elevated temperature operations – up to 260°C. The only drawback I find is the high cost. Utilize PFAE oils only when it’s a necessity.

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For low-load applications, one should consider silicone-based lubricants. The lubricants can bring a lot to the table, like great compatibility and a wide working temperature range of – -67-218°C.

What About Lubricating Plastic Gears?

Like any other plastic pat, plastic gears also need sufficient lubrication for smooth momentum. The importance of lubricating ears can be best understood when they work without being a lubricant for a prolonged time. When a set of gear teeth comes into contact, the point of contact experiences compressive pressure and moves as the gear turns. After sustained repetitions and compressive stress, the plastic material can undergo certain issues, such as:

  • Increased friction
  • Heat generation
  • Exposed surface asymmetry
  • Wearing down the external surface
  • Increase in force needed to move the gear

Anyone who has worked with plastic gears would realize its importance for making the gears faster, smoother, and even more resistant to damage. however as gears are made to be used without lubricants, special attention needs to be given to do’s and don’ts while doing the lubrication process.

Lubricating materials silicone, PTFE, and graphite are prime choices are plastic gear’s internal lubrication.

The most important factors to conder while choosing lubricants should be chemical compatibility, thermal stability, outstanding lubricity, and compatible viscosity.

Fascinating Read –What is PVDF (Polyvinylidene Fluoride) | A Detailed Guide


Below are the frequently added questions on a lubricant for plastic. Let’s dig deep to know more.

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Is it necessary to grease or lubricate plastic gears?

Lubricating or greasing isn’t always necessary. Most plastic gears can run without any kind of lubrication; however, using the right lubrication can readily increase its life expectancy and prevent cracks.

Can vaseline be used as a lubricant?

Vaseline or petroleum jelly is compatible with plastics but won’t give ideal results. Even if you go with it checking its chemical compatibility with plastic is advised.

What is Teflon grease?

Teflon grease is comprised of PTFE and can be used in most plastic parts. The presence of PTFE ensures a formation of a dry film and avoids solid containments.

How to lubricate plastic wheels?

For lubricating plastic wheels, a PTFE spray will be perfect. It’s easily available and manufactured by many brands.

Is Silicone Spray a dry lubricant?

It is not a dry lubricant and shouldn’t be used here; pressure and load-bearing are involved.

Suggested Read

  • What is the Best Glue for Plastic Parts | The Ultimate Guide
  • Which is the Best ABS Glue? | The Definitive Guide on Bonding ABS Properly
  • What is the Density of Plastics? | The Complete Guide
  • Plexiglass Vs. Acrylic | What are the Differences and Similarities?
  • Types of Gates for Injection Molding – A Detailed Guide
  • Top 10 High Impact Resistant Plastics
  • How to Cut Plexiglass | How to Cut Acrylic Sheet | The Ultimate Guide
  • Which is the Best Acrylic Glue? | The Best Plexiglass Glue
  • 6 Best Plastic Molding Techniques | A Complete Analysis

Final Thoughts

That was my take on the best lubricants for plastic parts. I believe choosing a lubricant for the plastic part is a critical part of doing the job. Do it well, and you can increase a plastic part’s life expectancy substantially.

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Kindly share your review in the comment box.

Have a wonderful day.


What is a good lubricant for plastic parts? ›

Silicone-based lubricants such as PFAE, most synthetic hydrocarbons (SHC or PAO) and mineral oils work well with plastics.

How do I choose the right lubricant? ›

When you select a lubricating oil, the most important parameters are the viscosity and viscosity index, the thermal stability (which influences the choice of oil type) and the additive package (EP/AW and corrosion protection) that fits the operating conditions for the application.

What are the two determining factor selecting lubricants? ›

Contamination (lubricants transport particles and other contaminants to filters and separators) Temperature (lubricants can absorb and transfer heat)

What are lubricants in plastic? ›

Lubricants are used in plastics processing to lower melt viscosity or to prevent the polymer from sticking to metal surfaces. Internal lubricants act intermolecularly, making it easier for polymer chains to slip past one another. They reduce melt viscosity and provide better polymer flow.

Does lithium grease damage plastic? ›

Lithium-based lubricants are used in cars and machinery in general. It's not advisable to use them on plastic parts. As lithium is based on petroleum, it tends to speed up rubber and plastic components decay.

Is silicone lubricant good for plastic? ›

Silicone spray lubricant is suitable for metal, plastic, rubber, vinyl, wood, nylon and many other materials. Most quality silicone lubricants, including CRC 808 Silicone, are designed to respond well to extreme weather conditions, including extreme heat and freezing conditions.

What are the characteristics of a good lubricant? ›

A good lubricant generally possesses the following characteristics:
  • A high boiling point and low freezing point (in order to stay liquid within a wide range of temperature)
  • A high viscosity index.
  • Thermal stability.
  • Hydraulic stability.
  • Demulsibility.
  • Corrosion prevention.
  • A high resistance to oxidation.

What is the primary consideration in lubrication selection? ›

When selecting a lubricant, its viscosity is one of the most important factors to be considered. If its viscosity is too low at its operating temperature, oil film cannot be sufficiently formed, causing abrasion and/or burning-and-sticking.

What are the types and selection of lubricants? ›

Lubricants are classified into four types: oil, grease, penetrating lubricants, and dry lubricants. The two most common lubricants you'll encounter on a daily basis are oil and grease, but your facility will still use dry and penetrating lubricants.

Which of the following is the most important properties of the lubricant? ›

While there are many different characteristics considered when choosing a lubricant, viscosity is considered the most important.

What are the 3 types of lubricants? ›

There are three main types of lubricants: oil-based, water-based, and silicone-based.

What is the best lubricant for plastic to metal? ›

Silicone lubricants make surfaces ultra-slippery while repelling water. They're safe to use on rubber, plastic, wood and metal.

Is dry lube safe for plastic? ›

B'laster Dry Lube helps reduce friction and wear, protects surfaces and enhances performance. Use it on locks and catches, hinges, cables, window and door tracks, rope and conveyor belts. It provides superior lubrication and is safe for use on most plastics.

What is the best grease for plastic on plastic? ›

Silicone and PFPE are generally safe with all plastics. Synthetic hydrocarbons and mineral oils are usually compatible with most plastics, though high and low operating temperatures may rule out mineral oils.

Which is better silicone or lithium grease? ›

As mentioned above, and unlike lithium grease, silicone lubricant is the perfect lubricant for rubber surfaces, but it is also extremely versatile, so it can be used on most other materials, including metal, plastic, wood, and even painted materials.

Is wd40 good for plastic? ›

WD-40 can be used on just about everything. It is safe for metal, rubber, wood and plastic. WD-40 can be applied to painted metal surfaces without harming the paint. Polycarbonate and clear polystyrene plastic are among the few surfaces on which to avoid using a petroleum-based product like WD-40.

When should you not use silicone lubricant? ›

The one time you should never use silicone lube is when you're using silicone sex toys. “Like damages like,” Dr. Rowen says. “Silicone lubes will break down sex toys." Instead, opt for a water-based with a silicone sex toy or oil-based if you don't need to use any latex barrier on the toy.

Does silicone hold plastic to plastic? ›

Waterproof sealants for plastic

This silicone sealant is perfect for bonding ABS plastics, rubbers, and more. As an added bonus, it's flexible, gap filling, temperature-resistant, and acts as a sealant and adhesive.

What silicone is good for plastic? ›

The best silicone sealant for plastic

With just a 20-minute drying time, UniBond Universal is a silicone waterproof sealant for plastic and other building materials, including glass, tiles, ceramics, anodized or pure aluminium, steel, stainless steel and wood.

What is the best lubricant for plastic on plastic? ›

Silicone and PFPE are generally safe with all plastics. Synthetic hydrocarbons and mineral oils are usually compatible with most plastics, though high and low operating temperatures may rule out mineral oils.

Can WD-40 be used on plastic parts? ›

WD-40 can be used on just about everything. It is safe for metal, rubber, wood and plastic.

Does WD-40 lubricate plastic? ›

Because WD-40 Specialist Silicone Lubricant is slippery and is minimally-reactive, it works on porous items like plastic to help restore them. So if you have plastic parts on a motorcycle, car, camping equipment or outdoor furniture and you want to clean them and prevent cracks, this is a great solution.

Can I use WD-40 silicone on plastic? ›

WD-40 Specialist® Silicone Lubricant safely lubricates, resists water and protects metal and non-metal surfaces such as rubber, plastic and vinyl. This formula dries fast and leaves a clear, non-staining film that doesn't stick or make a mess, so it won't attract dirt.


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