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Home » Packaging Materials » Plastic Fabrication Processes

Fabrication Processes

Compounding & Blending
Typically the addition of two or more polymers, materials or ingredients into a polymer is considered compounding or blending. This process changes the personality of a given polymer and differentiates various resins or the end-use products for which they are used.

Either measured by improvements in processability or an end-use performance property, or by overall economics of the polymers used for a given application, leading plastic fabricators and converters know enhancing the performance of existing materials can easily be achieved by compounding.

Compounds could include alloys and blends; polymer modifiers and fillers; base resins; pigment master batches for coloration; flame retardants; blowing agents; other various additives; and purge compounds for enhancing the compounding process.

Fiber Spinning
Most fibers used today are synthetic, and are produced by melt spinning. They are primarily thermoplastic materials that are melt extruded through small holes and drawn down in air to filaments, thinner than human hair. The filaments are often mechanically spun (twisted) into yarn, which is then woven into fabric, tufted into carpet or stranded into rope.

HDPE (High-density polyethylene) can be spun (drawn down) to fine thickness - less than 20 microns. That fineness is difficult for LDPE to achieve because the molecular entanglements of LDPE's (Low-density polyethylene) long chain branching retards draw down. However, lower density (lower modulus) fibers could be spun with linear low density polyethylene.

Film Extrusion
There is a wide range of high quality, high consistency polyolefin and polyvinylidene chloride products - many of which are standardized globally for easy specification, uniform processing, and superior end-product quality. Few of the products of this process are blown film, BOPE (bi-oriented Polyethylene) film, Bi-Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) film and cast film.
Plastic Molding Processes Polymer compositions may be converted to foam products using physical and/or chemical blowing agents. Foam products include, for example, extruded thermoplastic polymer foam, extruded polymer strand foam, expandable thermoplastic foam beads, expanded thermoplastic foam beads or expanded and fused thermoplastic foam beads, and various types of crosslinked foams.

The foam products may take any known physical configuration, such as sheet, round, strand geometry, rod, film, solid plank, laminated plank, coalesced strand plank, profiles and bun stock. Foam densities range from about 5 to 800 kilograms per cubic meter and cell size ranges from less than about 0.05 mm to about 15 mm. Open cell content can vary from 0 to 100 volume percent, depending upon component selection and type of process.

Foams optionally employ a stability control agent (such as glycerol monostearate) and are optionally perforated to enhance or accelerate gaseous permeation exchange wherein blowing agent exits from the foam and air enters into the foam. Various other additives (such as nucleating agents, antioxidants, pigments, fire-retardants) may optionally be incorporated into the foamable compositions.

Profile Extrusion
Profile and pipe extrusion is normally carried out using a single screw extruder which melts and conveys the pellets through an annular die. Under vacuum, the profile/pipe is then formed by cooling in a water bath with its outside diameter dimension controlled by a calibration sleeve. The profile/pipe is continually taken away from the die head by a haul-off and then cut to size.

Profiles and pipes can vary in diameter with corresponding increases in wall thickness. Processing pellets into pipes and profiles for such a large range of sizes presents different extrusion challenges. However, basic pipe extrusion requirements hold good for most sizes.

Molding Processes
Plastics can be molded using several different methods, including blow molding, injection molding and rotational molding. Different blow molding processes offer different advantages, based on the material used, performance requirements, production quantity, and costs. Plastics are used to fabricate a wide range of blow molded parts, including small bottles for household products and personal care, dairy products and carbonated drinks, small containers for industrial goods or chemicals, fuel tanks and more.

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