The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Custom Extruded Plastic Products
Plastic extrusion is a popular process, used for everything from garage doors and commercial refrigeration to the medical and renewable energy sectors. But, how exactly do you make custom extruded plastic products? We are breaking down the steps for you.
Design and Conceptualization
The first step of plastic extrusion is to create a design and concept for the product. This includes determining the product’s purpose, dimensions, shape, and any other specific features or requirements that are important to its functionality.
Once you have determined the application and the purpose of the product, you will need to choose the appropriate type of plastic material for the desired properties and application of the product. Factors such as durability, flexibility, temperature resistance, and chemical resistance are important to take into consideration. Making sure you chose the right materials for your specific application is crucial for the durability, longevity, and functionality of your finished product.
The Manufacturing Process
Extrusion Process Setup
After the design process and material selection, your extrusion partner will take over. They will prepare the extrusion equipment and make sure it is set up according to the specifications of the product. This involves configuring the extruder, die, and any auxiliary equipment like cooling systems or pullers.
Plastic Melting and Heating
The plastic resin pellets or granules are fed into the extruder, which heats and melts the material at a controlled temperature. Inside the extruder, there is a small screw that moves the heated plastic through the chamber to prevent burning.
Shaping and Extrusion
Once the plastic material is molten and is at the desired temperature, it is forced through a specially designed die. The die shapes the molten plastic into the desired cross-sectional profile of the product. Using a system of rollers or a puller, the material is continuously pulled or pushed through the die.
Cooling and Sizing
As the extruded plastic product emerges from the die, it enters a cooling section where it is rapidly cooled to solidify and maintain its desired shape. Air or water cooling methods are used to achieve this. After cooling, the extruded product is typically cut or trimmed to the desired length using a cutting device.
Finishing and Quality Control
After the initial extrusion process, additional finishing steps may be required based on the desired look and application of the product. There are many different finishing methods available, and deciding on one will strictly depend on how you want your product to look, feel, and function.
To join plastic pieces together, thermoforming and ultrasonic welding can be used. Thermoforming joins plastic pieces together using flaring or butt welding techniques. Ultrasonic welding is suitable for a wide range of materials and provides fast and efficient joining of thermoplastics without the need for additional adhesives or fasteners.
Off-line punching results in precise, accurate placement of holes or slots in the extruded plastic products. This process ensures perfect alignment and compatibility with other components or fasteners.
Adding a metal component to your extruded plastic product through metal embedment is a great way to enhance structural integrity and strength. The addition of metal provides increased load-bearing capacity or stiffness and can improve conductivity, magnetic properties, or compatibility with other components and assembly processes.
Custom packaging and kitting for plastic extruded products ensure all necessary components are available in one package, improving efficiency by reducing assembly and installation times. Routing also improves efficiency by creating features that enable easier assembly, integration with other components, or specific functionality.
Work with an Experienced Extrusion Provider
With over 30 years of experience and multiple state-of-the-art facilities, Custom Profile is able to meet all of your plastic extrusion needs. Our capabilities in profile and tubing extrusion, in-line operations, assembly and finishing, and tooling and development give us the ability to see your plastic extrusion product through until the very end.
Contact our team today to see how we can help you get started on your next project.