Profile Extrusion is All Around Us
Profile extrusion is a common manufacturing process, but one many people don’t know by name. As a widespread method for creating plastic parts, you likely use extruded materials on a daily basis. So, what is profile extrusion exactly and how does it work? Let’s dive in.
The Profile Extrusion Process, Explained
Profile extrusion is a method that makes continuous shapes of plastic. A molten polymer is forced through a metal die and cut into the shape of the desired finished product. Typically, these are channels, tubes, or other types of continuous shapes.
Businesses will use extrusion when they need to create a part with different characteristics. For example, a part might have a rigid section and a more flexible section within one piece of plastic. A part might also need to be two different color materials or have different gloss levels. All of these are easily created with extrusion.
While there are different types of extrusion, the overall process remains mostly the same. The plastic material is first fed into the hopper of the co-extrusion machine, where it’s heated and eventually pushed through a die assembly. From there, it goes through vacuum sizing and then is run through a cool water tank. Then, the material is sent through a pull roller, before being pushed through a fabrication die. Lastly, the product goes through a wind-up or cutoff machine to separate the individual part.
Types of Profile Extrusion
During the co-extrusion process, two or more materials are extruded through a single die so that materials merge or weld together into a single piece. Pipes, panels, and core-shell profiles are the most common co-extruded products.
Dual Durometer Co-Extrusion
The dual durometer co-extrusion process creates single parts from multiple polymers in one extrusion process. It’s most commonly used when businesses need a part with multi-functional hard and soft material combinations.
Tri-extrusion is basically the same process as co-extrusion, but it uses three materials instead of two. It’s most commonly used to create an extruded part with multiple performance characteristics from different types of plastic materials.
Crosshead extrusion is different from other kinds of extrusion because it involves encapsulating a substrate — like a metallic wire or strip — into a plastic profile during the extrusion process. There may be single layer extrusions, co-extrusions, or multi-layer extrusions during this process. Many companies will not provide this type of extrusion because of the difficulties it presents.
Work with an Experienced Profile Extruder
When you need a manufacturer who can provide all of the above extrusion services, turn to Custom Profile. We offer complete co-extrusion, dual durometer co-extrusion, tri-extrusion, and crosshead extrusion services, depending on your need. We have over 30 years of experience and three state-of-the-art facilities to turn your project around quickly and cost-effectively.
We also have an in-house tooling and development center that allows for complete control of quality and reduced lead times. Our tooling engineers design extrusion dies with streamlined and balanced flow channels that allow for the highest quality product in terms of dimensional accuracy, aesthetics, and mechanical performance. Our die tooling is created from aluminum-bronze alloy that has high heat conductivity and excellent mechanical properties, ensuring the best ROI on your tooling. We also have two R&D extrusion lines dedicated to tooling development allowing for fast turnaround on prototype extrusions.
In addition to our experience and high-quality tooling creation capabilities, we also have an ISO certified class 8 clean room. Should you need extruded parts for medical or electronic devices, we can quickly create quality, safe parts.
Ready to work on your extrusion process? Still wondering, “what is profile extrusion?” We’re here to answer any questions. Contact us today to set up an initial consultation.