First created in 1856 by Alexander Parkes in Great Britain, plastic has gone on to become a ubiquitous product used by practically everyone in their daily lives. Food items usually come in plastic bags or plastic containers. Beverages often come in plastic bottles. Certain guns have plastic attachments. Plastic is used to make combs, hairbrushes, hair clips, water pipes, hoses, chairs, shirt buttons, and so much more.
Here are some specific examples of plastics that are used in a huge number of products:
Polyamides: Toothbrushes, tubes, textiles, carpets, and guns contain this plastic.
Polycarbonate: A durable substance that can be molded into eyeglasses, CDs, police riot shields, windows, and other things that need to be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear.
Polyester: That’s right, you could very well be wearing plastic right now! Polyester is used in shirts, pants, and more clothing pieces.
Polyethylene: You can find this one in a variety of plastic bottles, jars, floor tiles, and portable chairs.
Polystyrene: All sorts of disposable dinnerware and packing materials are made of this.
Just as plastics come in all shapes and sizes, so, too, are the methods of fabricating plastic many and varied. Some of the most common plastic fabrication methods include:
- Plastic extrusion
- Plastic foaming
- Plastic lamination
- Plastic welding
Let's go through each of these and define exactly what they are and how they work.
Compounding is the process of blending two, three, four, or even more types of plastic into one product. This is not something to be done haphazardly. Each plastic must be added in just the right amount to make sure the end result is what you want it to be. You will need a die cast or mold to put the plastic compound into to shape it into the object you want it to be. After all, simply combining plastics together isn’t enough. It should serve some greater purpose. And doing this will likely lead to a material that has increased strength, durability, flexibility, and other positive characteristics of each of its individual components.
Molding involves putting hot plastic into or outside of a mold and allowing it to cool and take on the shape of the mold. There are several ways to mold plastic. For example, blow molding involves taking a small, hollow plastic container and blowing it up big to stretch it out against a mold. This is how most soda pop bottles are made, as well as other kinds of containers designed to hold a variety of liquids. Another one is injection molding, which uses a machine that looks like a giant screw to push heated plastic elements into a mold that quickly cools the plastic into the desired object. This is used to make harder, thicker plastic products, such as bins, shelves, etc. which have a high melting point. And finally, there is rotational molding. The proper materials are sealed into a giant cylinder or distinct shape, which is heated as it spins 360 degrees and then cooled with water and air. Toys, boats, and additional rounded objects are created through this process.
Profile extrusion and sheet extrusion push heated plastic elements through a long tube to create many products, from thick pipes to thin sheets. The plastic is subjected to intense heat at the start, pushed into position around a specific calibration sleeve, and then quickly cooled and cut as it comes out the end of the tube.
Plastic foaming involves putting certain groups of compounds through big machines that physically or chemically blow inert gases into them to make them expand because of the resulting gas bubbles and transform into a diverse collection of shapes. This process is how you get Styrofoam cups, takeout food containers, packing peanuts, and all sorts of packing cushions to protect electronics and sensitive products as they are transported and stored.
Plastic lamination is the process of adding a protective and/or adhesive layer on top of an item. The item being laminated doesn’t necessarily have to be another plastic, but it can also be a type of metal, textile, or paper. Film lamentation is most commonly used to create a layer meant to shield the object from damage, and resin lamination is used to make an object sticky when it comes into contact with separate items.
Plastic welding is a handy tool when you want to fuse together two types of plastic that do not work well with glue or other adhesive agents. Many plastics have different melting points, so welding will likely involve a filler material to act as a connection point between them.
Fishbowl Manufacturing – For Plastic Manufacturers
Now that we’ve discussed all of these plastic fabrication methods, let’s finish by addressing a combination of manufacturing software and accounting software. Fishbowl Manufacturing is an inventory management solution that can help plastic manufacturers track their raw goods, finished products, production stages, work orders, and more. It integrates with QuickBooks to eliminate double data entry and ensure the right information gets stored in both solutions.
There are many kinds of plastics, including polyamides, polycarbonates, polyester, polyethylene, and polystyrene. The following plastic fabrication methods allow you to create those compounds and shape them as desired:
- Compounding – Blending multiple plastics into one end product.
- Molding – Blowing, injecting, or rotating plastic into shapes in or around a mold.
- Plastic Extrusion – Pusing plastic through tubes to create sheets or pipes.
- Plastic Foaming – Blowing gases into resin to create packing peanuts and more.
- Plastic Lamination – Adding a protective or adhesive cover to objects.
- Plastic Welding – Joining two plastics together with heat and a filler material.