Whether you are a plastics manufacturer or sourcing plastics for your company’s products, it helps to know a little bit about plastic extrusion. Extrusion is the process of melting plastic and shaping it into a continuous piece that can be cut to specific lengths. Plastic extrusion companies are simply pushing hot, melted plastic through mold or forms and cutting it to the lengths that their customers require.

The Plastics

The process itself is fairly simple, but it requires a lot more specificity than you might think. If you are looking for products for your business, you will need to select the right shape for the job, the right type of plastic and the right length for your product.

All plastics are not created equal. Some are better suited for drinking straws and others are a better fit for window trim. There are 45 unique varieties of plastic and many variations of those varieties. The two main types are thermosets and thermoplastics. Thermosets can’t go back to their original form, but thermoplastics can are much more flexible and versatile.

The Process

Once you have laid out the specifics, it’s time to allow the manufacturer to work. Raw plastic goes into a heated cavity or cylinder. If the plastic needs to be colored, color is added at this stage. Next, the plastic is moved closer and closer to the end of the extruder by a screwing mechanism until it starts to come out the end. Since the plastic is delicate and overheating can affect the quality of the final product, the temperature of the extruder is carefully monitored and regulated with graduated temperatures and cooling fans.

The molten plastic will pass through a screen to filter out impurities and other contaminants before going into a die that is the specified shape. Once it comes out of the die, it will need to be cooled into its shape, usually in a sealed water bath or by cooling rolls. That’s it. Once the pieces have cooled, you have a finished product that is ready to be cut, shipped and used in your desired application.

Why You Should Care

Plastic extrusion is a process you need to know about because it is fast and effective. The process can create toys, straws, trimming, pipes, gears and so much more. It provides high quality, high volume production at a low cost. Due to the decrease or even the elimination of tooling costs, plastic extruding can be fast and inexpensive. You can order complex shapes with a wide array of thicknesses, textures, colors, sizes and more.

Making the decision to use a plastic extrusion process for your business can do a lot to change the way you do business. You will have the ability to do things more quickly and with a high-quality products that will wow your customers and clients. You can even have a plastic sheet made through extrusion. The only limit to plastic extrusion is your imagination.