So what is plastic extrusion? It’s the process of turning raw plastic pellets into solid-length shapes through machinery equipment called a plastic extrusion machine, also known as an extruder machine. The machine liquifies raw plastic pellets through extreme heat and forces the molten plastic through a die, which shapes the material into pipes, rods, railings, and more.
While the plastic extrusion industrial process is an older manufacturing method, the machines are still commonly used today. Due to customization and mass production capabilities, nearly every industry utilizes parts made by extrusion machines. The machines are also very cost-effective.
According to Allied Market Research, the global market size for plastic extrusion machines was valued at over $6 million in 2019. The market is projected to reach nearly $8 million by 2027 with a 4.5 percent compound annual growth rate.
The rise in demand for plastic extrusion machines is due to urbanization and increasing economic development and growth. The food and beverages, electronic, and furniture industries will also contribute to the demand.
As previously mentioned, extruding is an old manufacturing process. The process originated during the 18th century. Joseph Bramah invented the manual piston extruder to manufacture seamless lead pipes in the 1790s. Bramah’s invention is believed to be the world’s first extruder.
John Smeaton received a patent in 1818 for a twin-screw extrusion machine. Smeaton’s extruder had two screws that rotated around a central axis, creating pressure that forced the material through the machine.
Richard Brooman applied for a patent in 1845 for an extrusion machine modified by Henry Bewley. The extruder could coat copper wires with a rubber called Gutta Percha. The coated copper wires were supplied to the Submarine Telegraph Co. for cross-channel cables in the early 1850s.
Plastic extrusion machines can produce anything from a hundred yards of pipe tubing to thousands of straws. The easy-to-use method also aligns the plastic molecules to ensure durability.
The readily available extruder machine has a relatively uncomplicated design and consists of a hopper, barrel, screw drive, and screw drive motor.
The raw thermoplastic materials for extrusion machines are usually small, solid resin plastic beads. The size of the beads enables faster loading and quick melting times. The most common plastic materials are high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).
The final element of the extrusion process is the die. The die is a mold that allows for even flow as the molten plastic takes shape through the machine.
The three primary plastic extrusion machines are single-screw, twin-screw, and ram extruders. Single and twin-screw extruders are more common than ram extruders, which use a ram or plunger instead of a screw.
Single-screw extruders are considered more reliable and straightforward than twin-screw extruders. The single-screw is also more affordable. However, a twin-screw extrusion machine mixes ingredients more uniformly.
Below is a list of some of the top plastic extrusion companies in the U.S.
Xometry, Derwood, MD, has a range of manufacturing capabilities and provides plastic and metal extrusion services. The company works with molding and extrusion suppliers who use the latest technology to deliver the highest quality molds and extrusions.
Preferred Plastics, Plainwell, MI, has over 40 years of experience in the extrusion industry. The company uses thermoplastic materials and custom compounds to manufacture parts with custom configurations.
Petro Extrusion Technologies
Petro Extrusion Technologies, Middlesex, NJ, is an extrusion specialist with a vast inventory of stock products. The company also has custom manufacturing capabilities and offers in-line cutting, tape application, coiling, angle cutting, and customized lengths.
Polytec Plastics, Saint Charles, IL, is a custom manufacturer of plastic products with an extensive inventory of profiles, channels, tubes, rods, and strips. The company’s team handles custom designs and has been in business since 1973.
Absolute Custom Extrusions
Absolute Custom Extrusions, Milwaukee, WI, is a certified custom extruder specializing in plastic tubing, profiles, and coated wires and cables. ACE works with industrial companies across the globe, including America, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.
Britech Industries, Stuart, FL, began expanding its operations in 2005 to include an entire extrusion division. The company has stock items in various shapes, colors, and designs and can produce custom products.
SFR Industries, Cadott, WI, is a manufacturer of custom plastic extrusions for a variety of industries. SFR prides itself on having an eco-friendly footprint and providing resources for all things plastic.
GSH Industries, Cleveland, OH, is an extruding company and fabricator of custom profiles. The company has extensive tooling and secondary equipment capabilities. Its engineering team can take any idea and make it a reality.
Pexco, Johns Creek, GA, is a custom extrusion company that fabricates plastic shrink tubing, flexible and rigid tubing, and profiles. The company specializes in lighting, traffic, and fencing solutions.
Northland Plastics, Sheboygan, WI, has over 65 years of plastic extrusion experience. Its certified team is involved in every facet of the plastic profile extrusion process ensuring quality and customer satisfaction.
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