Commonly Used Thermoplastics for Extrusion
Through the plastic extrusion process, raw thermoplastics are melted and reshaped into custom plastic profiles. Co-extrusion and tri-extrusion processes allow different thermoplastics to be blended to achieve the custom end-product demanded by specific industries and unexpected use cases. Depending on the profile being created – which can include flexible or rigid, transparent or opaque – specific source plastics are selected. The variety of source plastics and their potential modification through co-extrusion and tri-extrusion is nearly limitless. This extensive selection has accelerated industries from medical to oil and gas, giving them the ability to replace wood, metal, and rubber with cost-effective plastic alternatives.
Co-Extrusions and Tri-Extrusions
Selecting the right plastic extrusion materials begins with identifying the material properties of your application and determining the source plastic that works best. In many cases, an industrial application such as a rigid profile with hinges or layered tubing may require that two thermoplastics be combined through co-extrusion and tri-extrusion.
Polymers may be co-extruded with other plastics or preformed metal to strengthen the profile for specific applications. Extender fillers and performance fillers: Fillers, such as metal fillers to allow for conducting energy in an electrical application, can be used during the extrusion process to extend the polymers being used or to add functionality. Additives can customize plastic profiles for specific applications, such as UV resistance, flame resistance, shock resistance, and more.
Choosing the Right Grade of Thermoplastic
Once you’ve defined the use case for your plastic profile, determine what grade you’ll need. Thermoplastics are graded as commodity, engineering, or performance level. 90% of thermoplastics are commodity graded, offering cost-effective solutions to achieve a variety of plastic profiles. Engineering grade plastics are more specialized and designed to deliver specific performance enhancements. Performance plastics are highly specialized and used primarily in niche applications, such as crucial medical device components.
Commodity plastics, such as PVC support both rigid and flexible plastic profiles. Flexible vinyl (FPVC) is a cost-effective plastic modified through co-extrusion with plasticizers or other additives. It provides insulation and durability to use cases that require a flexible profile. FPVC is found in the food and beverage industry and CPG companies as product packaging. Non-plasticized PVC is used to achieve rigid profiles in applications such as piping and tubing within the construction industry. Polypropylene blends flexibility with high electrical resistance and heat stability. It’s used in a broad range of applications from tubing for electrical industry projects to manufacturing components for industrial machinery.
- Polyamide is a strong, durable, and easily modified engineering-grade plastic. It’s favored as a metal replacement like in our state-of-the-art polyamide Inectorplex tube which provides superior flexibility, abrasion, and temperature resistance. Polyamide can also be found as the base of plastic profiles in a variety of loadbearing components, construction elements, and different applications within the gas/oil and automotive industry.
- Polycarbonate is an engineering-grade plastic available as both transparent and colored grade. It’s used in the construction industry, aircraft industries, and in media such as CDs and DVDs.
- ABS Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS for short) is a rigid yet lightweight thermoplastic polymer.is widely known for its mechanical and engineering properties. It’s used as wire protection, electrical engineering, and even piping in the automotive industry.
- High-Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) offers durability and strength to a variety of hard plastic profiles. It’s common across industries for use in packaging, automotive parts, children’s toys, and plastic utensils.
Choosing the right plastic for your needs doesn’t need to be complex.
Let Inplex help you find a custom solution for co-extruding or tri-extruding multiple thermoplastics to achieve your goal. Our team has the knowledge, experience, and industry perspective to work with you on your most ambitious extrusions. We work closely with our clients to help them understand the range of options available. Our experience includes working with a host of industry-standard thermoplastics and leveraging advanced processes such as co-extrusions and tri-extrusions. While the material you end up working with will ultimately depend upon the intended industrial application of the final product, there are still many choices to select from. No matter what your plastic extrusion needs, Inplex Custom Extruders can guide you to help you choose the right thermoplastics for your next custom plastic extrusion project.
Request a quote today for your next custom plastic extrusion order.
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