A Brief Guide to Plastics Manufacturing Processes

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Plastics are one of the most popular materials used to produce end-use products and parts. They can be used for everything, from consumer goods to medical devices. Plastics can be used in many different ways.

There are thousands of options for polymers, each with its own unique mechanical properties. How are plastic parts made?

Many plastic manufacturing processes can be used to produce a variety of parts and plastic types. It is crucial for engineers and designers working in product design to understand the current manufacturing options and new developments that will affect how parts are made.

Engineering plastics in Sydney, unlike commodity plastics, can withstand heat and strain. This makes them an ideal material for packaging and containers. These polymers are also known by the term thermoplastics.

They are used as raw materials in many manufacturing companies. They are subjected to high temperatures and melted to make usable materials.

This guide will provide an overview of the most popular manufacturing processes and engineering plastics in Melbourne used to produce plastic parts. It also contains guidelines that can help you choose the right option for your particular application.

How to choose the right plastic manufacturing process?

When choosing a manufacturing method for your product, consider the following:

  1. Form: Are your parts complex or have tight tolerances? Manufacturing options can be restricted depending on the design of your parts or may require significant design optimization (DFM), to make them economically producible.
  2. Volume/cost: How many parts are you planning to make each year? While some manufacturing processes are expensive to set up and tool, others produce low-cost parts per part. Low volume manufacturing processes, on the other hand, have lower startup costs. However, because of slower cycle times and less automation, the cost per part stays constant or drops only marginally as volume increases.
  3. Lead time: How fast do you need the parts or the finished goods to be produced? While some processes produce the first parts in 24 hours, others take months to set up and tool for high-volume production processes.
  4. Material: To what stresses and strains must your product be able to withstand? Many factors determine the best material for a particular application. It is important to balance cost against aesthetic and functional requirements. Compare the best characteristics of your application with the options available in the given manufacturing process.

Different types of plastics

Plastics are available in thousands of different varieties, with different base chemicals, derivatives, additives, and other ingredients that can be formulated to provide a wide variety of functional and aesthetic properties.

Let’s first look at the two main types of thermoplastics and thermosets of plastic to simplify the task of choosing the right material for a particular part or product.

Thermoplastics

The most widely used plastic is thermoplastics. They can withstand multiple melts and solidification cycles without causing significant degradation. Most thermoplastics come in small sheets or pellets that can be heated and shaped using different manufacturing processes.

This process can be reversed because there is no chemical bonding. It makes it possible to recycle or melt thermoplastics.

Benefits of Engineered Plastics

Engineering plastics in Brisbane are used to mold medical injection molding parts and other industrial applications. Many benefits can be derived from using engineered polymers. While polyimide is an important material for automobiles and other industries, polycarbonate can prove to be a very useful resource for the technology business.

This polymer has made its way into computer parts, DVD players, and other electronic devices. It is also used in the production of helmets for motorcycle riders and airplane cockpit glass.

  • It has exceptional heat resistance, exceeding 100/212 for chemical resistance, enhanced fire retardancy, and a broad range of other performance characteristics.
  • When thermoplastic reaches a predetermined temperature, it can melt at the desired temperature. This results in moldability and solidification on cooling that has the right tolerances. Engineered plastics also have the unique capability to be melted and made again. This can save time and money if there are any revisions.
  • Manufacturing is much easier than with metal or wood. It typically has similar strength and weight to these substances, but can also be molded into intricate shapes.

The most common types of thermoplastic material:

  • Acrylic (PMMA)
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
  • Polyamide (PA)
  • Polylactic acid (PLA)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Polyetheretherketone (PEEK)
  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • Polypropylene, (PP)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Thermosetting Plastics

According to the plastic suppliers in Melbourne, thermosetting plastics, also known as thermosets, are permanent solids after curing. This is in contrast to thermoplastics. The curing process is inducible by heat, light, or other suitable radiation.

This causes polymers in thermosetting materials to cross-link. This curing process creates an irreversible chemical link. Thermosetting plastics melt when heated and then decompose upon cooling. It is impossible to recycle thermosets or return the material to its base ingredients.

The most common types of thermoplastic material:

  • Cyanate ester
  • Epoxy
  • Polyester
  • Polyurethane
  • Silicone
  • Vulcanized rubber

Different types of manufacturing processes

  • 3D printing
  • CNC Machining
  • Polymer casting
  • Rotational Molding
  • Vacuum Forming
  • Injection Molding
  • Extrusion
  • Molding by blow

3D printing

3D printers can create three-dimensional parts from CAD models directly by building material layer after layer until the part is complete.

Manufacturing Process

  1. Print setup: This software allows you to orient and layout models within the printer’s build volume. If necessary, support structures can be added and layers are created.
  2. Printing: The type of 3D printing technology used will determine the printing process. Stereolithography (SLA), fused deposition modeling, (FDM), cures plastic filaments, and stereolithography (SLA), cures the liquid resin. Selective laser sintering, (SLS), fuses powdered material.
  3. Post-processing: After printing is completed, the parts are taken out of the printer and cleaned or washed. If applicable, the support structures are also removed.

Because 3D printers don’t require any tooling or take very little time to set up a new design, it is much cheaper than traditional manufacturing processes.

3D printing is generally slower and labor-intensive than mass production processes. The cost per part of 3D printing technology is falling, which opens up new opportunities for low- and mid-volume applications.

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