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How the Plastic Manufacturing Process Works: A Step-by-Step Approach

Here is a breakdown of how the plastic manufacturing process happens from raw material extraction up to finishing and testing of parts at the end of the production line.

Introduction

We all are aware of the term “plastic”. It is an essential part of our daily lives, but do you know how plastic products are made? Plastic is made up of natural organic material like crude oil, cellulose, natural gas, coal, and salt through a polymerization procedure. This article is going to provide you significant knowledge about all major aspects you need to know regarding plastic manufacturing operations.

There has been high plastic demand observed from the last few decades. Due to this excessive demand, the plastic industry generates more than 300 million tons of plastic each year. Amazingly, every year, around 500 million single-use plastic bags are used by people in the world.

Plastic products are part of every home, office, hospitals, and industry. Plastic features like durability, unbreakable material, portability, and lightweight quality make it a favorite among all users. Tons of plastic objects are produced to create bottle caps, medical equipment, toys, containers, plastic bags, car bumpers, bottles, electronics, packaging, and kitchen utensils, etc.

Multiple plastic manufacturing methodologies are now accessible for plastic part assembling. Every plastic manufacturer tries to choose the best plastic assembling technique that fits according to its desired product niche, quality, and quantity cost, and company objectives.

The plastic manufacturing process requires efficient expertise to build quality products. The skilled operations include handling of chemicals, filament, lubricants, equipment, machinery temperatures, inventory management, and plastic molding tools. In the current environmental condition, it is necessary for all plastic industry to working according to quality and sustainability guidelines instructed by the government authorities.


Types of Methods Used In Plastic Manufacturing Process

Plastic objects can be built by using multiple procedures. Each methodology has unique feature and specialties. Every method has different lead-time, cycle time, setup cost, form, cost per unit, and volume. Some techniques take more time in production some take less.

The most popular and widely used methods are;

  • Blow Molding
  • CNC Machining
  • Vacuum Forming
  • Polymer Casting
  • Injection Molding
  • 3D Printing
  • Extrusion
  • Rotational Molding

The selection of manufacturing method depends on what you want to create? Some methods only produce the same repetitive custom plastic designs and some methods have the ability to make distinct and creative designs. A business owner can make both lightweight and heavyweight products.

In present times, 3D printing technology is considered as the most efficient way of producing maximum creative plastic parts in less time, with minimum error and waste. It builds 3D design on computers and its prototyping physical sample feature help is retaining money.

As someone interested in the industry, you need to check out these trends and news on the plastic industry.


What Kind Of Plastic Used In Plastic Production?

Mostly 92% of thermoplastic plastic is used in the plastic market. Several common and specialized kind of plastic is utilized in the plastic fabrication process mentioned below:

  • Silicon
  • Polystyrene (PS)
  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Polyurethane (PU)
  • Polyester (PES)
  • Phenol-Formaldehyde (PF)
  • Nylon or Polyimides (PA)
  • Melamine Formaldehyde (MF)
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), etc.

Products produced out of plastic manufacturing process.

Series of Steps in Plastic Manufacturing Process

Let’s have a brief look on step-by-step procedure about how plastic is assembled in the factory;

Raw Material Extraction

The first step in the production of plastic objects is extracting the raw material that is derived from natural gas or refined crude oil. The drilling is done by heavy machinery to take out raw material from the underground.

The collected raw material is sent through the pipes for the refinery process. To make pellets of pure plastic, heating of oil and gas is performed. After that refined polyethylene chain are integrated which is called polymerization to get god clarified plastic.

Setting & Preparation of Mold & Printers

In the next phase, molds are prepared according to the desired design of plastic products. The settings of molds and printers tools are the most significant step, as they help to produce objects according to specification.  They are adjusted manually or sometimes by robotics. The heated & melted plastic is then injected into these molds to give shape. It is important to control the temperature of plastic heating during the melting process.

Main Technical Processing

This major practical step contains the mass production of parts by using specialized machines. The master processing includes multiple activities depending on what type of methodology is implemented for assembling of plastic;

  • Blow Molding: A heated plastic tube is blown to make hollow plastic parts. It is popular for making plastic bottles, toys, and automotive components.
  • CNC Machining: CNC stands for Computer numerical control. The CNC is a subtractive process that involves grinding, cutting, boring, and drilling of solid plastic blocks, rods, and bars.
  • Vacuum Forming: Variety of plastic shapes ii formed by vacuum forming method. In vacuum forming plastic is heated, stretched over the mold surface, and then vacuum force is applied.
  • Polymer Casting: The resin is liquefied by heat. The melted rubber is filled closed in the mold and curd at room temperature. After cooling cured plastic is pulled out from the mold.
  • Injection Molding: Molten thermoplastic is poured into the mold and pressed by shot chamber through a screw.
  • 3D Printing: It creates a three-dimensional physical model of objects with the help of a computerized printer.
  • Extrusion: Extrusion means applying pressure or force on the die to form a shape
  • Rotational Molding: Rotational plastic crates hollow plastic products by rotating on two axes.

Cooling & Removal of Plastic

Once the plastic parts are formed they are de-molded after cooling down. The solid part is ejected and sent for final processing.

Finishing & Testing of Parts

In the end, solid parts are painted, sprayed, and the final color coating is done. Smooth finishing is performed manually or by automatic machines. After that, quality control procedures are executed and damaged products are discarded.  Final products are packed and shipped to retailers.

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