Plastic comes in all shapes and sizes. We form plastic into many things, from our packaging to the tools we use. Much of what we spend our lives using to work, cook, or live life comes from plastic. This high demand has led to dozens of innovative ways to fabricate plastic products. Read on to learn about some of the different types of fabrication methods so that you can know how we create this essential material.
Injection molding is the most common form of plastic fabrication. This method involves melting plastic pellets until they form together inside a mold. Once the material cools off, it takes the shape of the mold and creates the desired piece.
Using a similar process to injection molding, machines blow hot pressurized air into the mold where the plastic pellets are, shaping it in the mold. This process isn’t as popular as injection molding, but it still gets the job done. This method leaves the product with a hollow center, making it ideal for bottles and jugs.
This method is similar to the last two in that a mold plays a role. Low-pressure air pushes inside the mold with powdered plastic to begin the rotational molding process. The powder coats the whole mold as manufacturers apply heat. Once the pressurized air and the powder infuse, manufacturers continually rotate the mold until the plastic takes the intended shape.
This process happens when manufacturers pour resin from polymers like urethane into a silicone mold, then apply a highly pressured vacuum. Once this happens, they remove the air inside the resin to leave the finished product, leaving a smooth, transparent product.
Machining is a more simplified method of creating custom fabricated plastic pieces. By using CNC milling and turning, computerized techniques control this design. The process cuts away at a raw plastic block to sculpt the final product.
Fused Deposition Modeling
Fused deposition modeling is another name for 3D printing. This process uses a computer and a specially designed printer to print liquid plastic. 3D printing melts down thermoplastics and, using a layering technique, the program deposits every layer until the finalized piece is whole.
This alternate form of 3D printing uses photopolymer resin instead of thermoplastics. The laser inside the printer cures the plastic, which hardens it in place throughout the layering process.
Selective Laser Sintering
This form of 3D printing is ideal for using nylons. With similar methods, this fabrication technique still layers SLS, a powder plastic. As it layers, the laser hardens the powder to create whatever designs the creators program for.
There are a wide variety of different types of fabrication methods used throughout the plastic product manufacturing industry. As you seek to create your own plastic components, consider which method best suits your unique product.