The truth is that the most commonly used material in the production of various end-use parts and large-scale products is plastic. Whether it is a consumer product like a Lego toy, a medical device, vital parts for electronic devices or air-conditioning systems, plastic is a common denominator. The reason why this material has become so widely used and in such high demand is due to the material’s features. Plastic is a highly unbreakable material, with durability and portability being the main characteristics. What’s more, plastic also has a lightweight quality which makes it favourable when producing particular objects, like electronics pieces or packaging.
But depending on the product you want to manufacture, the costs involved, and the budget you have allocated, there is more than one type of plastic manufacturing methodology. So, you need to take many aspects into consideration when choosing the proper plastic manufacturing process. For instance, different plastic objects can be manufactured using various procedures, each with unique features and advantages. But in order to decide on the correct plastic manufacturing methodology and process, it is crucial to know its lead and cycle time, costs and volume capacity. Because production time differs from one technique to another, you need to choose the right one according to the product you want to manufacture.
This being said, here are three things and factors to consider when looking at how to choose the right plastic manufacturing process and how to ensure it is the right one:
Choose the Right Plastic Manufacturing Process
Form Of the Product
Depending on the product you wish to manufacture and how complex its geometry is, only a limited number of particular plastic manufacturing techniques may work. If you have to produce internal pieces and parts, this requires an even more complicated process. Design for manufacturing or DFM optimisation is necessary if the products must be economically made.
Suppose you don’t necessarily specialise with a single type of product and only one kind of form, but instead, you deal with the manufacturing of diverse products, from patio furniture to children’s toys. In that case, you may want to use the high-pressure injection moulding process. This is also an effective technique if the company you have deals with manufacturing small electronics parts, such as keyboards or hinges for laptops and other devices.
Volume and Costs Of Products
Another essential aspect to consider when choosing the proper plastic manufacturing process is the volume of products you want to make. Different techniques allow for faster production if the volume is relatively low.
Plus, if the production has a reduced volume, it makes sense to try and reduce the startup costs as well. In this case, the recommended process is the one using structural foam moulding, given that you can use lighter or inexpensive materials. Hence, decreasing costs significantly, which allows you to produce low volumes.
But if you need to produce a more significant number of products, it is certainly better to use a technique that allows you to do it in a timely manner. This way, you are able to manufacture a high volume in time for delivery.
Production Lead Time
Any manufacturing and production business must take into consideration the lead time. Being aware of how much time it takes to produce, depending on the volume of products you have, helps you decide on delivery dates. Having a clear idea of your production timeline allows you to maintain a seamless running of the business and supports productivity. For this reason, it is crucial to know how much time you have for manufacturing your products and how long the production takes. Depending on the type of manufacturing business you have and the kind of plastic manufacturing process you use, the production lead time can take anywhere from 24 hours to several months.
The Kind of Plastic Used in Production
The types of plastic available include a wide-ranging variety depending on the base chemicals, derivatives and additives used. Each type of plastic is used for various applications, depending on the functionality or aesthetic necessary.
While there are thousands of plastic varieties, it is crucial to look at the two main ones, given that these are most commonly used when choosing a plastic manufacturing process. The two primary plastics are as follows:
This is the most popular type of plastic, given how versatile and reusable it is. Thermoplastics can undergo various cycles of melting followed by solidification, and no signs of degradation will occur. Such a feature makes this type of plastic so widely used and applicable that there is no wonder why it remains the primary plastic.
With sustainability measures being so necessary in recent years and more and more people adopting eco-friendly habits, companies and organisations prefer using a material that can be easily recyclable and reused multiple times without being degraded. This is another reason why thermoplastic is the preferred choice in the plastic manufacturing process, apart from the fact it is a solid and shrink-resistant material.
Thermoplastics are also flexible and the more cost-effective option, thanks to them being much easier to process. Plus, they are compatible with injection moulding plastic manufacturing processes. Given the strength of this material and the fact that it can be easily recycled a lot of times, make thermoplastic the ideal material to use in your plastic manufacturing processes.
Unlike thermoplastics, thermosetting plastics or thermosets are not an eco-friendly alternative, given they cannot be recycled. This happens because these plastics maintain their solid state permanently once cured by heat. Therefore, once thermostats reach this condition and form, they can no longer be reshaped or reheated for reuse purposes. For this reason, many plastic manufacturers nowadays try to avoid this type of plastic, not including it in their manufacturing processes.
Nevertheless, thermosetting plastics have their advantages and specific features that thermoplastics, unfortunately, don’t possess. For instance, thermosets are much stronger and have better stability features, being highly chemical-resistant. Given these positive features, this type of plastic won’t deteriorate, degrade or break too quickly if they are left in extreme and disruptive temperatures. Because of the material’s sturdiness, many manufacturers use it to support and strengthen the structural properties of other materials.
Hope this guide on how to choose the right plastic manufacturing process was useful!
One of the Editors for Tech on the Go, I love covering mobile tech and social media. I also manage the reviews we cover so all the writers stay on my good side!