Plastic in manufacturing

Filed under: Uses of Plastic — Posted by: Daniel on July 7, 2013

Plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the world today, and its properties make it one of the best materials for a number of uses. The fact that it can be melted down into different forms or mixed with other materials to create even more uses makes it valuable in manufacturing a wide range of products.

The process

Plastic undergoes a strict process before it is used in any manufactured products, and this process involves about four categories. The first step is to acquire the raw material that will form part of the plastic. Secondly, it is necessary to synthesise the polymer created from the raw material. This involves creating a chemical reaction that helps the raw material form polymer chains, which is basically a more complex substance.

The next step involves compounding the polymer to give it different properties. Chemicals are often added to achieve characteristics such as increased flexibility or resistance to weathering.

The last step is to mold the plastic into the required shape. There are a few methods used in molding plastic, including extrusion and injection molding. Extrusion forces the soft plastic through a shaped die, allowing it to be made into almost any shape. Injection molding forces the melted plastic into a mold where it is left to set and take shape.

Uses in manufacturing

Plastic is known for being lightweight and flexible, meaning it is ideal for a lot of different applications. Within the UK alone, it is estimated that more than five million tonnes of plastic is used every year. The biggest markets that make use of plastic and its properties are packaging, automobile manufacture, and construction. That being said, plastic is used in many markets and probably the majority of things in the home are made from some sort of plastic.

The automobile industry is a big user of plastic. Cars, for example, have many plastic components which are manufactured in order to reduce the weight of the vehicle, as well as improve the consumption of fuel. In fact, plastic weighs up to around 50% less than other automobile manufacturing materials, making it ideal for the purpose. Plastic can also be molded into many shapes so that everything from the fuel tank to the door panels could be molded from plastic.

Packaging is also huge industry in itself. Everything that is sold nowadays comes in some sort of packaging, and plastic is the best choice for most of these because it is strong, so it preserves the items without the risk of them being damaged.

The construction industry is actually the second highest plastic user, right after packaging. As plastic can be molded into almost any shape, it is useful for a range of items within construction. Cable covering is one of the most common, as this is an area that needs the utmost care. Plastic does not conduct electricity, so it is ideal to safeguard against electrical currents.

Whether it’s for the construction of greenhouses or the packaging for food, the manufacturing of plastics is, and will continue to be, a huge industry throughout the future because of the sheer diversity of possibilities available.

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