Plastic extruders can produce many different shapes and profiles. This section is a roundup of the most common plastic extruder products. The list of products is not exhaustive but will give you an idea of the things that the machine can do, whether a small extrusion machine for small-scale projects or an extrusion machine plant for large-scale productions.
Plastic Extruder Products
From making plastic sheets for glazing to producing thermoforming films, the number of possible extruder application projects almost has no end: the limit is only the design of the die. Based on that, manufacturers can use all sorts of dies, including customized types. Below is a list of the different plastic extruder products and how they’re made.
But first, why do manufacturers prefer to buy extruder machines instead of other plastic processing equipment? The answer is in the many machine’s many benefits. Here are some of the extrusion advantages.
- Low production costs
- Fast and efficient process
- Remarkable versatility
- Continuous production
- Can use many different resins
- Allows the inclusion of additives
Now that you are aware of the benefits of extrusion, it’s time to have a look at some typical products you can produce with an extruder.
One of the most popular plastic extruder products is the thin film. Extruded films can be very thin or thick and strong enough to carry heavy loads or resist tearing. A film extruder uses one of these two methods to make the product: blow film and sheet extrusion. The blown film process is used for thinner products, the sheet method thicker ones.
In the blown film extrusion process, the molten plastic is typically fed through an annular or spiral die to produce a flexible, thin-walled tube. The tube is then air-blown through a hole in the die and drawn by cooling rolls. In the sheet method, the melt is extruded through a T-shaped die and cooled by cooling rollers. A plastic film extrusion machine will help produce the film these products:
- Film for packaging pharmaceutical products
- Film to make carrier bags
- Extruded film to use as laminating material
- Film for agricultural application such as those that farmers use to kill weeds
Extruded Plastic Sheet
Many of the plastic sheets used today are a product of extrusion. A sheet extruder allows the plastic to be turned into sheets that are thin, flat, and of consistent width. During the extrusion of plastic sheets, a T die is used. This helps spread the plastic melt on a flat surface before it’s cooled to solidify it.
A plastic sheet extrusion machine uses a series of rollers to cool and size the formed product and may assembly secondary equipment to perform extra operations on the sheet. When necessary, special rollers will even introduce corrugation to the warm sheet straight out of the die. The extruded plastic sheet is used in many different ways including:
- As a glass alterative (acrylic) for glazing doors and windows
- To make sound barriers and protective covers
- To make thermoformed food containers
- In plastic laminations
- To make automotive parts and signage
Extruded tubing is one of the different forms of extrusion application where a continuous, plastic tube or hollow shape is created. Different machines make various piping profiles and sizes. Different materials are used too, the most popular being PVC and HDPE for pipes and lighter thermoplastics for tubes.
Pipe or tube extruders employ annular dies to shape the plastic melt. As the melt exits the die, a cooling system helps solidify the part. Vacuum pressure applied to the outside prevents the pipe from collapsing. Positive pressure to the inside diameter serves a similar purpose. The most popular extruder application examples in this category are:
- Making water and gas pipes
- Producing drainage pipes
- Manufacturing drinking straws
- Making vacuum lines
- For refrigeration hoses
- To make plastic posts
Extruded Wire Coating
The extrusion process is used to coat the outer surface of wires or cables with plastic to act as protection. The coating is also often used as an insulator to prevent electrical leakage, for example in home wiring. In order to perform this process, the bare wire is pulled through the middle of the extruder die. The wire coating extruder uses a special die. Two major techniques may be used: over jacketing and pressure methods.
In the over jacketing method, contact with the wire happens late in the extrusion process. The pressure method involves the plastic contacting the wire earlier and under pressure. This causes the plastic to stick to the wire, unlike in the jacketing method. The range of plastic extruder products in this application are listed below:
- To coat home wiring cables
- For insulated wires to use in electronic devices
- For electrical appliance wires
- To protect telecommunication equipment cables
A filament extruder is a type of extrusion machine that’s used in many different ways. It can be an industrial filament extruder to make packaging products or a mini extrusion machine for 3D printing. Despite the varied uses, the machine uses the same working principle:
Basically melted plastic is forced through a thin, annular die and cooled before being wound on a spool by a winder. Extruded filament is one of the most useful plastic extruder products that can be used for many different purposes. Examples of the applications include the following.
- To make synthetic ropes
- For packaging nets
- To produce the bristles that are used in brushes
- To the strings used in sports equipment such as rackets
- For nets to hold soil together
- To construct fences
Profile extrusion is a wide application where many different cross-sectional products are created. The products can be any shape and size and made from a broad range of plastics. One of the challenges when making extruded profiles is designing the die.
In situations where a die to make profiles proves to be a challenge, post extrusion operations are used to introduce the finals sizes, shapes, and other characteristics. As already indicated, the applications of profile extrusions are wide and varied. Examples are listed below.
- Plastic railing
- Window frames
- Solid shapes such as benches
- An assortment of vehicle parts
Plastic extrusion applications cut across different industries from agricultural to pharmaceutical and automotive. The extruder machine uses quoted here are just a fraction of the many applications. As the plastics industry keeps growing by leaps and bounds, so will the need for extruded products in the near future. In our next and last section, we take a look at the process to buy an extruder.