Plastic extrusion is a versatile manufacturing process that heats and melts raw plastics to form a continuous shape with a specific cross-sectional profile. The products manufactured may include window frames, automotive parts, pipes, and profiles for industrial applications.
Choosing the right plastic extrusions for a project can be challenging, as numerous options are available. However, it is essential to consider several factors to ensure that the selected technique meets the applications’ specific requirements. By carefully selecting the right custom extrusion service, time and costs can be saved, and potential product failures can be prevented.
This article aims to provide information about plastic extrusion and highlight the essential factors to consider when selecting it for a project.
What Is Plastic Extrusion?
Plastic extrusion is a manufacturing process used to create a continuous profile of a polymer material. It involves melting and shaping plastic pellets or granules and forcing them through a die to create a uniform shape or profile. The die determines the shape and size of the final product, and the extruded material is cooled and solidified as it exits the die.
Extruded plastic profiles can be used in various industries, including construction, automotive, packaging, and consumer goods. Moreover, plastic extrusion is economical and offers numerous benefits, such as high production speed, uniformity, and consistency in the final product.
Factors To Consider in Custom Plastic Extrusions Selection
If plastic extrusions are not properly selected for a project, it can lead to several issues and negative outcomes. For instance, the extrusion may not be suitable for the intended application and could fail to perform its function. This could lead to product failure, increased costs, and time wasted on rework. Hence, it is crucial to consider the following factors to ensure that the final product is fit for purpose:
It is essential to choose a material that can fulfill the performance demands of the application. Factors such as strength, flexibility, and temperature resistance should be considered. It is also advised to discuss the intended use with the manufacturer. By doing so, the manufacturer can guide the optimal material selection to achieve the desired performance and durability.
Examples of commonly used plastics for extrusion include the following:
- ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
- HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
- LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)
- MDPE (Medium Density Polyethylene)
- Polycarbonate (PC)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polystyrene (HIPS)
- PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride – Rigid and Flexible)
- TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers)
- TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber)
- TPU (Thermoplastic Urethane)
Design and Tooling
Tailoring the design to the application requirements is crucial to ensure that the extruded profile complies with the specifications. Thus, select a manufacturer with the appropriate design and engineering capabilities for your project.
Tolerance and Dimensions
The dimensions of the plastic extrusions must match the application requirements, and the tolerances must fall within acceptable limits. Achieving this requires a manufacturer with the necessary measurement and testing capabilities. They must know how to verify whether or not the extrusions are produced according to the required dimensions and tolerances.
In many cases, the extrusion process alone is insufficient to produce the final product, and additional operations may be necessary. These may include cutting, drilling, punching, or assembly. Nonetheless, choosing a service provider who has the capabilities required to perform these secondary operations effectively is crucial.
The responsibility for ensuring the quality of plastic extrusions lies primarily with the manufacturer rather than the process itself. The manufacturer should have a quality control system to ensure the extrusions meet the required standards. This should encompass the inspection of raw materials, continuous production process monitoring, and thorough testing of the finished product.
Get Custom Plastic Fabrication Solutions From Seagate Plastics
With 35 years of industry experience, Seagate Plastics is your one-stop shop for all things plastic! We offer top-notch custom extrusions, injection molded components, CNC machining, fabrication, and assembly services. We are also an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, ensuring that our custom thermoplastic products are of the highest quality.