In Mechanicalland, we provided tons of information about plastic materials. Because of their advantages, plastics find lots of applications areas both in engineering and daily life. You can find vast information about the type of plastic materials here. To produce parts and products from polymer materials, there are a bunch of techniques are used. These techniques are classified according to the output shape of polymer materials from the required machine or machinery.
Before diving into the types of polymer production methods, let’s remember some information about plastics.
On an engineering basis, plastics or polymers classified into three categories; thermoplastics, thermosetting, and elastomers.
Thermoplastics materials are the most conventional polymer materials that can be melted and cooled in lots of cycles. There is no curing or cross-linking phenomenon take place for thermoplastic polymers. Because of that, the recycling of thermoplastics is much easier than other types of polymers.
Thermosetting polymers are the second group of polymers that have the feature of occurrence of cross-linking between plastic molecules at the cooling stage if they heated up to melt. Because of cross-linking, they can not be re-melted after solidification, which makes them can be shaped only one time.
Elastomer polymers also called rubbers are highly elastic polymers that they can reach up to 700% of elongations according to their initial shapes. Cross-linking is also valid for elastomers, but up to a specific point. Some techniques are applied to increase the cross-linking inside elastomer molecules to obtain a more rigid structure.
What Are The Main Types Of Plastic Shaping Processes?
There are lots of kinds of technologies that are applied to plastic materials to obtain the required shapes. To classify these production technologies, the final shape of plastic materials are used generally;
- The casting of plastics: Just like metals and ceramics, special casting methods are also used for plastic materials.
- Fiber production from plastics: Plastic fibers are also very important parts of some composite materials. So, the production of plastic fibers is also a very important process just like the production of glass-fibers.
- Extruded plastic products: Extrusion processes are also applied to plastics to obtain constant cross-sections from plastic materials.
- Sheet and film production from plastics: As you know that there are tons of daily applications of plastic films and plastic sheets. The most basic example of them is the grocery bags. There are various processes to produce these geometries from plastics.
- Hollow parts: Hollow parts that are produced from plastics materials are also very common as container applications. Hollow plastic parts are produced with specific plastic production processes.
- Plastic foams: For insulative and structural applications, plastic foams are also a very important part of our civilization.
- Solid molded plastic parts: The most important type of plastic production methods that we are probably surrounded with the parts produced with these methods.
Why Plastic Shaping Processes?
Like polymers have various advantages over other engineering materials, the production processes of plastics have very distinct advantages over other manufacturing techniques applied to other materials.
Polymers are the most lately invented materials that take lots of markets from metals and ceramics for 50 years before.
In some of the shaping processes of metals such as casting, we need to heat the metal to and over melting temperatures. Melting temperatures of metals are also very high compared with plastics. Because of that, the shaping of plastics requires much lower energies for melting operations.
Plastic molding is also a very common production type of plastics, which is a net-shape process. So, there no requirement for further finishing processes after the production of net-shape from plastics.
Because of the very high temperatures in metal casting and shaping processes, material handling is also another problem. But for plastics, handling is not such a problem as for metals, because of the lower temperatures required to melt polymers.
In general applications, there is no need for painting, plating of produced plastics parts which makes them also preferable.
Conclusion For Plastic Shaping Processes
Plastics can be said as a brand-new main material type if we take a look at other main manufacturing materials such as metals and ceramics. On a historical basis, the use of metals and ceramics goes up to ancient times. But plastics present only for around 100 years. And the market for plastics is bigger than metals and ceramics. Plastics are taking the place of metals in lots of applications, especially in recent decades.
There are tons of plastic production methods are available in the market which can be classified according to their product types. You can find out lots of articles about plastic production processes in Mechanicalland.
Recycling plastics is another worrying thing for the environment. We are getting tons of news about the plastic contamination of the environment which is endangering our planet and living species on it. But, biodegradable plastics technology is a very promising area that engineers can work in the scientific works about this area to save our planet from plastic contamination.
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