What Is Plastic Fabrication? An Overview

December 21, 2021 12:01 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The term plastic fabrication refers to the processes of designing and manufacturing products made out of a plastic-based material or composites that contain plastic. There are many different methods of plastic fabrication, each of which has its own inherent advantages and disadvantages. All of them, however, are used because of the properties of plastic itself, including its cost-effectiveness and malleability.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common forms of plastic product fabrication and what’s involved with them:

  • Plastic welding: Plastic welding is similar to metallic welding in that it involves melting a couple workpieces to combine them with the formation of a molecular bond. A filler material must be used in this process to fuse the different types of plastics together and create the adhesive bond necessary to ensure strength in the weld.
  • Plastic lamination: In lamination, multiple layers of plastic are held together by creating a barrier along another material’s surface. The purpose is to improve the durability and aesthetics of the product being laminated while also reducing potential maintenance needs by protecting materials prone to deterioration. The drawback is that lamination can be time-consuming for certain applications.
  • Plastic molding: This is one of the oldest plastic fabrication processes, and it is still widely used today. Plastic molding involves melting plastic and pouring it into a hold, where it will harden to form the desired shape. Specific types of plastic molding include injection molding, compressed molding and rotational molding.
  • Compounding: Compounding plastic fabrication, also known as blending, involves taking two or more types of plastics and combining them to create an amalgamation with the use of various additives. The amalgamation can be formed into various parts with molds, dies and other shaping tools to create easily-processed materials that meet the specifications desired by the fabricators.
  • Extrusion: Plastic extrusion involves heating raw plastic and pushing it through a chamber, where it is formed into a continuous profile like a pipe, fence, tube, film, deck railing, window frame or other such item with a continuous structure. The resin (the term used for the melted plastic) is pulled into a heated barrel and then pushed away from the mold to achieve its desired shape. This process is frequently used when high volumes of production are needed.
  • Die cutting: Die cutting involves specialized machines to convert raw material through forming, cutting and shearing into custom shapes and styles. This process can be used to achieve many different shapes and styles, and it is often used for cutting film and thin plastic sheets.
  • Thermoforming: Thermoforming involves the heating of thermoplastics until they can be reshaped under pressure. This process involves very thin plastic and features techniques such as vacuum forming and bending. Tooling costs are much lower for these processes because the part will not require particularly high temperatures or pressure conditions.

For more information about plastic product fabrication and the various types of fabrication, get in touch with the team at D&D Plastics.

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