Why Is Vespel So Expensive? (7 Reasons Why)

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Bruce Coleman

Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

Vespel is an automated, high-performance polymer used by many leading medical device makers. So it’s no wonder it’s become a highly sought-after resource on which most suppliers rely.

As Vespel is made from SP polyimide resin with quality performance, it has extensive tensile strength. Hence they are more expensive to produce. Here’s what we’ve learned about why such plastics are so upscale!

Why Is Vespel So Expensive?


1. High-Performance Polyimide-Based

Vespel is a trademark for a line of high-performance polyimide-based polymers manufactured by DuPont.

Unlike other plastics, it does not outgas, even at high temperatures, making it excellent for lightweight heat shields and crucible support.

Its thermophysical properties are highly reproducible and consistent, making it perfect for destructive testing applications such as fuel cells and batteries.

On the market, high-performance polyimide-based dynamic engineering plastics are expensive because they must meet demanding criteria requiring high accuracy, reliability, and consistency.
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Therefore, because the price of this material is determined by its quality rather than volume manufacturing alone, it is undoubtedly more expensive than other polymers.

2. Excellent Friction And Chemically Resistant

Even at -400° F, Vespel does not become brittle. Also, it can constantly operate at temperatures up to 600° F and intermittently at temperatures up to 1,000° F.

Furthermore, this material is noted for having good friction and wear characteristics and is exceptionally creeping and chemically resistant.

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On top of that, it offers a low and consistent thermal expansion coefficient and excellent creep characteristics, allowing shapes to be machined to tight dimensional tolerances.

Because the price of Vespel is determined by its chemical resistance, it does not wear out as quickly as other materials.

So, while this increases the cost of production, it also increases the product’s durability and longevity.

3. Aerospace Applications

Since the early days of space travel, Vespel has been frequently used for spacecraft purposes.

In addition, Vespel is commonly required for insulators, seals, bearings, bushings, rollers, and slide pads that must work reliably in harsh environments.

Its significant features for spacecraft applications include maintenance ductility, moderate modulus throughout a wide temperature range, and good dimensional stability.

As a result, linking Vespel to aerospace applications is pricey because it takes a lot of money to keep up with the rapid technological developments that make these things possible.

4. Semiconductor Applications

Semiconductor Applications

Vespel parts have been demonstrated to deliver high quality in semiconductor applications, often outperforming pieces created from regularly used materials like ceramics and quartz.

Further, these are mainly used in many semiconductor machinery applications such as wafer handling, wafer processing, IC handling, and testing.

Semiconductors can tolerate several cleaning cycles, extending their lifetime and lowering costs associated with replacing them when they have been cleaned too much or too little, depending on their quality.

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As a result, higher-quality semiconductors made from Vespel are more expensive since they last longer and require fewer cleaning cycles to keep them in good condition.

5. Thermal Conductivity

Due to its outstanding repeatability and consistent thermophysical properties, Vespel is often used as a thermal conductivity reference material for testing or assessing thermal insulators.

A material’s thermal conductivity is affected by temperature, thickness, and other factors. So, the more thermal conductivity there is, the less energy is necessary to transmit heat.

It can, for example, survive repeated heating to 300° C without losing its thermal or mechanical qualities.

Therefore, it is not surprising that it is pricey because it is a high-performance material with many qualities that make it more expensive than other materials.

6. Customization On Parts And Shapes

According to DuPont, parts and shapes are created by the needs of each customer.

Their qualities aid in overcoming severe sealing, wear, or friction issues and withstanding high temperatures and some of the world’s harshest working environments.

Additionally, DuPont integrates material science with unique collaborative design resources for customers through design centers of excellence in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Their main objective is to make lighter-weight parts viable and superior to typical metal, ceramics, and even other engineering plastics.

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However, this customization comes at a price: it takes time, energy, and resources for them to create these delicate pieces.

7. General Manufacturing Process

Vespel forms can be machined to tolerances previously thought too close for plastic materials using standard metal-working equipment.

Because of their great mechanical strength, stiffness, and dimensional stability at machining temperatures, Vespel shapes are relatively straightforward to manufacture.

Along with that, DuPont’s direct-forming technique is the most cost-effective manufacturing method.

As a result, significant manufacturing outcomes to labor costs can be passed on to customers through higher part pricing.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why copper is a good conductor, why a plane would nosedive, and why trains honk so much.

Conclusion

Vespel is a good choice for many applications due to its remarkable thermal stability and resilience to chemical and mechanical degradation.

Because of the qualities and applications of high-performance polymers in aerospace and electronics, it is impossible to replace them with a low-cost alternative.

Lastly, Vespel is the best solution if a product demands a substantial weight carrying capacity, high-temperature capabilities, and centrifugal stability.

Author

  • Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

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