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27/3/2016

UnderstandingPlasticExtrusion

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UnderstandingPlasticExtrusion
Whetherit'sonehundredyardsofpipetubingorathousandCrazyStraws,
plasticextrusionisinfrequentuseintoday'splasticsindustrybecauseits
readilyavailableandeasytoworkwith.Theplasticextrusionprocessinvolves
meltingplasticmaterial,forcingitintoadietoshapeitintoacontinuous
profile,andthencuttingittolength.Theprocessisagoodchoicefor
applicationsthatrequireafinalproductwithaconstantcrosssection.Thelow
costandhighproductionratesmakeitacommonmanufacturingchoicefor
productssuchaspiping,plasticsheeting,weatherstripping,wireinsulation
andadhesivetape.
PlasticExtrusionSupplies
Priortobeginningtheplasticextrusion
process,thepropermachineryand
suppliesmustbeobtained,specificallyaplasticextrudermachine.Thisdevice
isafairlysimplemachinethatfacilitatestheextrusionprocessfromstartto
finish.Themaincomponentsofaplasticextruderincludeahopper,barrel,screwdriveandscrewdrivemotor.
Thesecondmostimportantcomponentistherawthermoplasticmaterialintendedforextrusion.Themajority
ofextrusionoperationsrelyonresinplastic(smallsolidbeads)toallowforsimpleloadingandquickmelting
times.Commonplasticmaterialsusedintheextrusionprocessincludehighimpactpolystyrene(HIPS),PVC,
polyethylene,polypropylene,andABS.
Thefinalcomponentnecessaryforplasticextrusionisthedie.Thedieservesasthemoldfortheplasticin
plasticextrusion,diesallowforevenflowofthemoltenplastic.Diestypicallymustbecustommadeandmay
requireadditionalleadtimepriortobeginningthemanufacturingprocess.
TheBasicProcessOfPlasticExtrusion
Theplasticextrusionprocessbeginswiththeplacementofrawresinintotheextrudershopper.Iftheresin
lacksadditivesnecessaryfortheparticularapplication(suchasUVinhibitors,antioxidants,orcolorants),
thentheyarethenaddedtothehopper.Onceinplace,theresinistypicallygravityfedthroughthefeedthroat
ofthehopperdownintotheextruder'sbarrel.Withinthebarrelisalong,rotatingscrewthatfeedstheresin
forwardinthebarreltowardsthedie.
Astheresinmovesalongwithinthebarrel,itissubjectedtoextremelyhightemperaturesuntilitstartsto
melt.Dependingonthetypeofthermoplastic,barreltemperaturescanrangebetween400and530degrees
Fahrenheit.Mostextruder'shaveabarrelthatgraduallyincreasesinheatfromtheloadingendtothefeed
pipetoenablegradualmeltingandminimizethepossibilityofplasticdegradation.
Oncethemoltenplasticreachestheendofthebarrel,itisforcedthroughascreenpackandfedintothefeed
pipethatleadstothedie.Thescreen,reinforcedbyabreakerplateduetohighpressuresinthebarrel,serves
toremovecontaminantsthatmaybepresentinthemoltenplastic.Theporosityofthescreen,numberof
screens,andotherfactorscanbemanipulateduntiluniformmeltingoccursasaresultoftherightamountof
backpressure.
Onceinthefeedpipe,themoltenmetalisfedintothediecavity,whereitcoolsandhardens.Toexpeditethe
coolingprocess,thenewlyformedplasticreceivesasealedwaterbath.Inthecaseofplasticsheeting
extrusions,coolingrollsreplacethewaterbath.
TemperatureMaintenance
Maintainingthecorrecttemperaturelevelandmeltingrateoftheresinisanimportantconsiderationwhen
creatingplasticextrusions.Optimaltemperaturemaximizesuniformfluidityoftheplastic,andminimizesthe
possibilityforstressandwarpingofthefinalproduct.Variablessuchaspressureandfrictionthatbuildupin
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27/3/2016

UnderstandingPlasticExtrusion

thebarreloftheextrudermeanthattemperaturesarenotremainingconstant.Heatersmustbemonitored,
lowered,raised,orshutoffasnecessarytomaintainconstantheatwithintheextrudercoolingfansandcast
inheaterjacketscanalsohelpmaintainproperextrusiontemperature.
ImportanceOfScrewDesign
Sincetheheatingrate,feedrate,andotherintegralextrusionfactorsaredirectlydependentontheonly
movingpartintheplasticextruderthescrewcarefullyconsiderationofthesizeanddesignofthis
componentisnecessary.Calculationofscrewdiameterandlengthisbasedonthemeltingrate,sizeofthe
resin,typeofrawplastic,andamountofpressurerequiredmaintaininguniformity.Forapplicationswhere
materialsarecompoundedwithinthebarreloftheextruder,atwinscrewdesignmaybeusedtoenable
adequatemixing.
SpecialtyPlasticExtrusionProcesses
Manyapplicationscallforspecializedextrusionprocessestoobtainadequateresultsorspeedupthe
productionprocess.Commonspecialtyextrusionprocessesinclude:
Blownfilmextrusion:Usedtofabricateplasticfilmproductssuchasgroceryandfoodstoragebags
Thediesinthisprocessfeatureanupright,cylindricaldesignthatpullsthemoltenplasticupwardasit
formsandcools.
Coextrusion:Severallayersofmaterialareextrudedatthesametime.Twoormoreextrudersfeed
differenttypesofplasticintoasingleextrusionhead.
Overjacketing:Extrusionisemployedtocoataniteminprotectiveplasticcoating.Exteriorwireand
cablejacketingisthemostcommonapplicationofoverjacketing.
Tubingextrusion:Similartotraditionalextrusion,exceptthedieincludesinteriorpinsormandrelsto
facilitatetheproductionofhollowplasticmaterials.
OtherPlastics&RubberGuides
HowPlasticRecyclingEquipmentWorks
PlasticRecyclingEquipment
PropertiesofPTFE

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