Plastic: a human-made material that you can describe as versatile, pliable, cheap to produce, and above all, ubiquitous. Plastic is found in millions of products performing various functions to billions across the globe. From PET water bottles, plumbing pipes, electronic casings to artificial joints in the body — there is no limit to the end uses of the polymer material.
Plastics are polymers. However, there are fewer distinct polymer materials compared to the endless list of plastic uses. So, how does plastic applications cover millions of functions with only dozens of distinct polymer sources? Thermoplastic compounding.
What Is Thermoplastic Compounding?
Thermoplastic compounding is a process of blending melt plastics with additives to better their properties. The base polymers are mixed with other materials which makes the resultant product behave differently. Compounding alters the thermal, physical, electrical, or aesthetic properties of the plastic.
Thermoplastics are lightweight, with a density of approximately 0.9 to 2 gm/cc. The composites have low melting points and can be remelted and remolded. The plastics are usually hard, good electrical insulators, and resistant to chemical abrasion.
How Is the Thermoplastic Compound Made?
Thermoplastic compounding starts with a base polymer or resin with unique characteristics that make it suitable for use in certain operations. The polymer and desired additives are fed through an extruder that contains two-headed screws that melt, mix, and propel the materials. The melted mixture exits the extrusion machines as long-fiber reinforced plastics.
The thermoplastics are then cooled and cut into pellets. The pellets undergo internal quality checks before shipment to the customer. By incorporating a wide range of polymers, additives, colorants, and fillers, twin-screw compounding can enhance many characteristics including.
- Impact strength
- Flame retardance
- UV resistance
- Electrical conductivity and countless other properties
The additives in thermoplastic compounding include elastomers, pigments, glass fibers, lubricants, carbon nano-particles, and much more. Engineers in thermoplastic plants can independently select the right additives to use, depending on your unique product criteria.
Specific types of resins or polymers need to be used to make certain end-products. A great deal of chemical and mechanical knowledge is required to ensure the thermoplastics meet the desired quality specifications.
Application of Thermoplastic Compounding
A variety of blends can be used to create long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics that fit in virtually every industry. Here are a few examples of markets that heavily utilize plastics.
- Automotive Industry: Composites are also popular in manufacturing interior and exterior vehicular parts. Color, impact resistance, electrical conductivity are some of the properties sorts after from the thermoplastics
- Consumer: Plastic is the material for choice for most consumer goods, including products approved for food contact and pet use. The composites are engineered to be free from raw materials that may concern consumers.
- Medical: The healthcare industry relies on thermoplastic compounds to produce safe and sterile surgical tools, medical devices, tubing, and casings. There are tight regulations on thermoplastic use in this field.
- 3D Modeling: Thermoplastics are extensively used to fabricate prototypes or production components using 3d design services and 3d printing. Designers utilize specialty nylons made from thermoplastics such as ABS, Polycarbonate, etc.
Other larger markets utilize thermoplastic composites including building and construction, wire and cable, and other industries.
Thermoplastic compounding is vital in the production of plastic required for a wide range of uses. Oak Tree, LLC. are specialists in compounding technologies and can guide you through the planning, design & engineering, equipment selection, installation, and commissioning of the production facility to produce your desired compounds.