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Have you ever wondered how composite windows, vinyl fencing, or freezer gaskets are made? These products and many others are produced using a high-volume manufacturing process called plastic extrusion.
An extruder is the piece of equipment at the heart of this manufacturing technique. Extruders consist mainly of these components:
A manual or vacuum hopper, which holds and feeds the raw plastic materials.
A long barrel with a screw-like mechanism that pushes the plastic through the barrel.
External heaters that help maintain desired temperatures inside the barrel.
A die that forms the profile of the plastic part being manufactured.
what is plastic extrusion
THE PREFERRED PLASTICS EXTRUSION PROCESS
The plastic extrusion process begins when polymer compounds and additives in the form of pellets, flakes, granules, or powders are continuously fed through a hopper into the extruder. The screw gradually moves these materials along the barrel, and in the process, enough heat is generated to melt the plastic compounds. External heaters help to maintain the desired temperature as the melted plastic moves through the barrel.
When molten plastic exits the barrel, it is forced through a die that shapes it into the desired profile. A cooling section helps to maintain the profile while the plastic sets and hardens.
BENEFITS OF PLASTIC EXTRUSION
Plastic extrusion is continuous and capable of high volume output, making it a more economical plastics manufacturing method than other processes. In addition, tooling costs are relatively low.
Plastic extrusion works particularly well for production of plastic parts that have consistent wall thicknesses, and for profiles that are wider and longer than those produced by other types of manufacturing. Plastic films, bags, piping, tubing, rods, weather stripping, and deck railing are just a few of the many products that are successfully and economically produced by plastic extrusion.