How Plastic Is Used in the Marine Industry

Components made of plastic are lightweight, corrosion resistant, and last longer
  • Marine plastic parts deliver low wear rates
  • We create a wide variety of plastic parts for boats

Equipment in the marine industry is constantly exposed to highly corrosive conditions. Recreational craft like sailboats, personal watercraft, and motorboats are susceptible to damage from saltwater and freshwater. This type of exposure will lead to rust and eventually corrode almost any type of metal or damage wood after a long period of time. In addition, most watercraft spend a significant amount of time under the sun with consistent exposure to UV rays. These conditions can lead to deterioration of many components.

Plastic parts, on the other hand, have the potential to combat corrosion and help vessels cope with the tough environments that are pervasive in the marine industry. At Aztec Plastic, we’ve been creating parts for outboard boat engines since the 1970s. We have produced all of the plastic parts under the hood for several large engine manufacturers, as well as starters, knobs, and handles.

What kinds of plastics are used for boats?

Plastics used in the marine industry include many types of polyethylene, polycarbonate, and Torlon. These materials are highly resistant to saltwater, freshwater, and UV exposure, making them ideal for watercraft components. In addition to resisting water and weather damage, plastics offer a variety of advantages over traditional wood and metal materials for the marine industry.

Durability – In comparison to other marine construction materials, plastic parts can resist corrosion and impacts more easily without sustaining critical damage or compromising the engine or vessel.

Plastic parts are quick to manufacture – Using injection molding, 3D printing, and plastic machining, plastic watercraft engine components can be manufactured much faster than using traditional methods required for metals and similar materials.


Torlon watercraft components

Torlon is an ideal plastic for marine components, because it is highly resistant to corrosion and chemicals. It also has excellent frictional characteristics with no external lubrication. For example, Harken Marine uses Torlon ball bearings that do not need to be constantly greased, so you avoid grease marks on your boat deck. Torlon is also used to produce bushings, clutch components, and other boat engine parts.

Plastic used in marine vessels is environmentally friendly

Using plastic instead of metals or wood in the marine industry also has the potential to provide environmental benefits. Plastic can be recycled at the end of the component’s or product’s service life more readily than metal. Additionally, marine plastic is more easily fabricated and repaired than wood or metal, so that plastic components can be fixed in situations where metal or wood would need to be replaced, saving resources.

Aztec Plastic watercraft components

Our plastic injection molding and machining capabilities allow us to manufacture a wide variety of marine equipment components, including:

  • Propellers and impellers
  • Air intake manifolds
  • Torlon ball bearings
  • Seals
  • Cam covers
  • Resonators
  • Protective covers and housings for electronics
  • Coring material for backing plates

We also manufacture a range of outboard motor components using high performance plastics. These parts include drive shafts, pop shafts, shift mechanisms, bearings, gearsets, dog clutches, seals, and shims. Plastics outboard motor components are ideal, because they produce less noise and vibration than metal components, plus they can stand up to extremely high temperatures and have very tight tolerances to prevent water from entering the engine compartment. Whatever plastic boat parts you need, Aztec Plastic will take your design and handle the entire manufacturing process. We complete the prototyping, injection molding or 3D printing, and machining and secondary services all in house. Our team identifies the best plastic for your specific part and builds the highest quality, most cost effective marine components possible.

Plastic parts for other recreation vehicles

In addition to watercraft, industrial plastics are also widely used in other types of small engine vehicles, especially those that operate in wet or extreme environments. Torlon in particular is used in a variety of Artic Cat, Polaris, Club Car, Harley Davidson, Ski Doo, and Yamaha vehicles for roller parts, clutch transmission systems, suspension bushings, steering column bearings, and more.
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