10 Things to Know About Plastic Extrusion Manufacturing
Plastic profiles are produced by a process known as plastic extrusion. Plastic extrusion is a manufacturing process where raw plastic materials are melted down and then formed into a continuous profile through a die and series of forming plates. Plastic extrusion produces all types of different items and is particularly useful for manufacturing window frames, tubing, pipes and weather stripping. Before choosing an extrusion manufacturer for a custom part, there are several criteria to be taken into consideration as the capability of suppliers can vary greatly within this industry. Before even starting consulting manufacturers, there are several factors which need to be clearly defined:
Process types: Different extrusion process can include: Extrusion, Co-extrusion, Blown film extrusion, sheet/film extrusion, compound extrusions, and over jacketing extrusions.
Main Materials: Ideally, the material type and grade should be defined and specified on the drawing. There are numerous types of grades for each of the main extrudable materials. Most extrusion companies are capable of extruding PVC, UPVC, PP, LDPE, HDPE, Polystyrene, Polycarbonate: Acrylic: Nylon: Acetal: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, Elastomeres...
Dimensions: The most common application of extrusion is pipe manufacturing with diameters up to an average maximum of 1600mm in HDPE and PVC. The maximum length of tubes is defined by the size of the coils used at the end of the line. For pipes, the maximum length varies between manufacturers, the main constraint being the length of the extrusion line.
Finishes: Extrusion can process high quality finishes mainly matt, glossy or textured.
Tooling investment: Traditional extrusion requires low investment in tooling compared to injection molding. A simple extrusion die and forming plates costs between 1500 and 3000 euros depending on size, complexity and tolerances to achieve.
Capacity and production speed: Standard profiles can run at speeds up to 20-25 m/min for the simplest and smallest designs. For Larger outputs, complex or hollow designs require slower line speeds to allow enough time for the material to cool in the water tank. The production capacity for a profile need to take into account the line speed, the number of production shifts and number of production days per week.
Tooling setup: Tooling setup usually vary between 1 to 3 hours depending on size shape and complexity of the profile.
Output: The maximum output of extruders depends on the type of machine used and can go up to 600kg/h for twin screw extruders.
Tolerances: High Tolerance may be difficult to maintain due to a wearing of the die on high volume productions.
Typical products: Tubes, Pipes, UPVC window/ door frames, cladding, seals...
When it comes to extruded profiles, there is an enormous number of choice in terms of material, shapes, sizes and applications and finding the best manufacturer meeting all technical and qualitative requirements for a specific part can be a lengthy and daunting process. A good way to find the best suppliers for a specific part is to request a quote from Plastic Extrusion Manufacturers through marketplace websites, which allow buyers to consult a panel of suppliers selected by their capability to produce parts matching exactly the buyer technical requirements for any extrusion need. This not only offers a great market overview before choosing the right supplier but also free resources and help to reduce time to market leadtimes.