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What You Should Know About Plastic Extrusion

When you think of plastic, what do you think of? Oftentimes, most people will think of a plastic object right in front of them. There are so many objects out there made of plastic, from your keyboard to your dashboard, that there is likely a plastic item within your reach right now. Most of the plastic that we use comes from plastic extrusion. This is the process that manufacturers use to create their parts. If you are interested in the process, read on for more information.

Brief History of Plastic Manufacturing

Plastic extrusion has been used since the 18th century and still has an impact on our lives today. A man named Joseph Branmah patented the extrusion process back in 1797 and it was first used to make lead pipes. Metal is heated, forced into a die, and made into a shape that was then allowed to harden. When plastic became more accessible, it replaced metal and was able to be extruded as well. This is the same process that is still used today.

How Plastic is Used in Manufacturing

Typically, when the extrusion process begins, very tiny plastic pellets, balls or chips are melted at a very high temperature. This melted plastic is then poured directly into a mold. In days past, the metal or plastic was forced into the mold using tools like a plunger. These days, however, there is a heated feeder that is often used and this helps to force the plastic from the hopper, into a barrel, then into a die.

Types of Extrusion

There are a number of extrusion forms that are used by manufacturers in order to accomplish their goals. The main types of extrusion are sheet extrusion, co-extrusion and tubing extrusion. Sheet extrusion is used for any products that come into a sheet or a film. This is usually sent to buyers in the form of a roll. Co-extrusion is used when different plastics are coming from two sources and put into one form. Finally as you may have figured out, tubing extrusion is where plastic comes in the form of a tube. It doesn’t matter what type of extrusion is used; you can be sure that you have some type of plastic around you that has gone through this process.
As you can see, the process of plastic extrusion is simple and can be used for a variety of uses.