Plastic Fabrication Methods
Plastic’s malleability and cost-effectiveness can make it a versatile and durable material for a range of different products. There is a wide range of plastic manufacturing processes, from injection molding to foaming to rotational molding. At a glance, we’ll be covering the following plastic fabrication processes here:
- Plastic Welding
- Compounding (Blending) Plastic
- Plastic Molding, Including RIM, Rotational, Injection, Compression, and Blow Molding
- Plastic Thermoforming
- Plastic Extrusion
- Plastic Foaming
- Plastic Machining
- Plastic 3D Printing
- Plastic Lamination
Like metal welding, plastic welding involves using heat to melt two or more workpieces together. This process is effective when handling thermoplastics that are unsuitable for adhesive binding. Individual pieces are often fused with a filler material between them, especially if the plastics have dramatically different melting points. Welding can be accomplished through several different methods, including hot gas emissions, high-frequency vibration, spinning, or contact welding. The equipment used in plastic welding depends on the selected process and type of plastic involved.
Compounding (or Blending) Plastic
Compounding is a type of custom plastic fabrication that combines two or more plastics into an amalgam before forming them into a single part. It involves mixing molten plastics to exact specifications and forming them with a mold, die, or other shaping tools.
Compounding is often used to either improve the ease of processing a given material or to enhance product performance. By combining the advantages and disadvantages of several types of plastic, the process can result in a unique material complementary to a specific application. Some common types of plastic compounds include:
- Polymer fillers (which are added to plastic to reduce costs and add certain properties)
- Base resins (pure plastic which is mixed with fillers and other additives)
- Pigment masterbatches (plastic with concentrated pigment, to be used instead of straight pigment)
- Blowing agents (used to create plastic foam)
- Flame retardants
- Purge compounds (which clean molding machines of leftover resin and dye)
- Plastic Molding, Including RIM, Rotational, Blow, Compression, and Injection Molding
In plastic molding, plastic is formed into a specified shape by allowing the heated, pliable workpiece to cool and harden around or within a mold. There are numerous plastic molding processes, many of which are commonly used.
Read more: Methods of Plastic Fabrication