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Plastic extrusion process
How it works?
Advantage / Disadvantage
Plastic profile extrusion is a molding method in which plastic resin is continuously melted, pushed through a die with the desired cross-section (a “profile”), and then pulled through a water bath until fully cooled. The formed plastic can then be fabricated and either cut into multiple parts or wound as a single part.
There are four zones through which the material moves through:
• Extruding zone, in which resin is melted, additives such as talc, foaming agents, glass, or color may be
added, and the material is forced through the extruder die assembly.
• Sizing zone, in which a pull vacuum is used to prevent collapse and control warpage as the plastic
hardens. This step is only used in profiles with one or more hollows.
• Cooling zone, in which the plastic is ran through cool water tanks until it hardens completely.
• Processing zone, in which the extrusion is measured for quality and processed in-line with the application
of adhesion promoters, tape, slip coating, and/or ink-jet printing. This step is optional.
• Cutting zone, in which the extrusion is cut to desired lengths or spooled.
Compared to other forming and molding processes, extrusion has a number of advantages and disadvantages:
•High production rates
•Low cost tooling
•Short tooling lead times
•Many types of raw materials
•Lowest cost conversion processes for plastics
•Can combine multiple durometers in a single extrusion
•Only provides a uniform cross sectional shape
•Surface area is not class A for all materials
•Tolerances are greater than injection mold
Secondary operations required to add a third
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