Stems - Vulcanite vs. Acrylic
There are two main types of materials used for pipe stems- Vulcanite (ebonite or hard rubber) and Lucite (acrylic). Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Here's a brief rundown of the pros and cons of each:
Vulcanite: Pros- Softer on the teeth, and easier to make an impression in, which makes it more stable; can be made thinner and is easy to make minor adjustments to. Cons- Only available in a few colors; more prone to breakage; discolors and oxidizes more easily than Lucite.
Lucite: Pros- Available in a rainbow of colors and patterns; more durable, stays clean and shiny with less effort. Cons- Harder on the teeth and is more slippery, so it may slide around until you get an impression worn in; has to be made thicker, which can be more uncomfortable; can't be adjusted as easily.