So you wish to know what extruded polymers are! Maybe, you want to start a plastic or resin-based manufacturing unit. Perhaps, you plan to expand and upgrade your existing manufacturing unit. No matter the reason, polymer products obtained through the extrusion process offer a series of benefits to manufacturers as well as end-users. First, let’s understand what a polymer is. It’s a large molecule composed of various repeated sub-units. A polymer is a substance that embodies a molecular structure chiefly built from a huge number of similar units forged to bind together.
What are extruded polymers?
Now that you know what polymers are, you may want to know what an extrusion polymer is. Essentially, extrusion is a process technique of manufacturing long-sized products of a uniform cross-section, forcing softened polymers by means of a die that has an opening. Common examples of products made out of an extruded polymer are sheets, rods, films, pipes, and wire insulated coatings. Usually, resin and plastic polymers are extruded to form long products.
Process of extrusion
The extrusion process involves heating, melting, molding, and cooling of polymers. To start with, the polymer material (in pellet form) is fed through a hopper into an extruder. A feeding screw moves the material through a die, transforming into a continuous polymer product.
During the extrusion process, heating elements that are placed over the barrel soften up and melt the polymer. Thermocouples control the temperature of the polymer material. Once the material is heated to a particular point, it takes a liquid form. As a result, moving the material to the die becomes easy. Once the product sets in the die, the thermocouples drop the temperature drastically.
This sudden cooling molds the liquid polymer into a solid form. When the product goes out of the die, it’s additionally cooled in a water bath. The process of extrusion continues till the raw pallets are supplied. Although thermoplastics are mainly extruded, Thermosets, Elastomers, and resins are also passed through the extrusion process to mold the polymer into the desired form.
Benefits of extruded polymers
Now that the concept of extrusion of polymers is clear, you may wish to know its benefits. Although various processing techniques are applied on polymers, extrusion enjoys an edge over other techniques for a number of reasons. Let’s understand the benefits of polymer products obtained through extrusions.
Products obtained through extruded polymers carry low cost because the cost of extrusion is relatively low compared to other molding and forming techniques. Low cost mainly stems from the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. The extrusion process uses plastic polymers, which could undergo melting as well as hardening repeatedly.
Plus, leftover materials and waste can be reused, which in turn lowers disposal as well as manufacturing costs. Barring planned downtime or mechanical failure, the extrusion process goes on continuously. That minimizes the likelihood of inventory shortage and ensures 24-hour manufacturing.
Extruded polymers present considerable flexibility in making products with a consistent, error-free cross-section. Attaining a seamless cross-section is just like cutting straight through a big block of cheese in various places. They all have the same rectangular block shape no matter which piece you pick. This applies to the extrusion technique too.
Extrusion could produce complex shapes with a consistent cross-section such as decorative trims, tubes, and others. With minor changes to the technique, manufacturers can use extrusion molding for making plastic sheets. Variation on the process also facilitates the manufacturing of items that mix plastic characteristics such as soft and hard surfaces.
One big benefit of extruded polymers is speedy production. Extrusion allows you to manufacture a huge volume of products in a short time frame. Today, time translates into money. If you lose or waste time, you lose clients and orders.
This is where extrusion comes to your rescue and help out. By eliminating various tools and their costs, extrusion enhances the speed of production within your unit. Speedy production also increases productivity, which could be reflected in terms of higher sales, decreased cost, and higher profitability.
As opposed to other forming techniques, the extrusion process offers the co-extrusion option. With co-extrusion, liquid extruded polymers are fed from two different extruders of varying thickness at different speeds into a single-head extrusion process. The end products from two different extruders are molded to form a new product. Co-extrusion lets you incorporate different compounds and materials into a single product to align several functional requirements ranging from the UV treatment to polymers that glow in the dark.
Downtime is prevalent in any manufacturing unit. You need to overhaul a set of machines in order to keep things in order. However, that can eat a lot of time on your end. Lost time can affect your production capacity.
It also increases your cost and lowers the efficiency of production. Extruded polymers are obtained through a single process as opposed to multiple processes used in other techniques. Plus, the overall extrusion process is simple, minimizing downtime and ensuring seamless and uninterrupted production for a long time.
Extruded polymers have better longevity. As the polymers are passed through a single process, they retain their strength compared to polymer products obtained through multiple processes. Higher strength and durability benefit end-users. When users benefit from products, they demand those products again and again, and that means more orders for the business.
Any machine needs maintenance at regular time intervals. Damages as well as wear and tear are common with any machine and process. However, maintenance can put a big dent in your working capital and profitability. This is more so if the damaged parts are costly. However, the extrusion technique warrants minimal maintenance. Also, the parts are easily available at reasonable rates.
Extruded polymers offer an array of benefits to manufacturers as well as end-users. Low cost, flexibility, durability, low maintenance, etc are some of the appealing benefits of polymer products obtained through the extrusion process. For these reasons, extruded polymer products are the preferred choice of manufacturers and consumers.