What is the future of plastic extrusion?

Blog, Thursday, January 19, 2023

Quality control, lead times, and cost. These are the primary issues affecting the plastics manufacturing industry. With the current state of affairs across the globe due to the recent pandemic, these problems have been compounded as companies still face supply chain issues and delays in manufacturing and shipping, relying on overseas manufacturers.

CBM Plastics knows how these issues can affect your company’s ability to deliver quality products on time and also affect your bottom line. We are located in the U.S., which not only allows for better control of the shipping and lead times but also allows you to ensure that the proper quality you want for your product is achieved the first time.

We have been in the industry for decades and know the techniques needed to ensure you receive a high-quality product run and a shorter lead time than you will find overseas. Find out more about how recent events are shaping the future of plastic profile extrusion, or contact us today to get started on your plastic manufacturing project.

What is plastic profile extrusion?

Profile extrusion is a process used to efficiently produce a continuous polymer profile. The molten polymer will be forced through the extrusion die, which will form it into the linear shape that is desired. The thickness and length will then be formed, and the final product will go through more shaping and forming as it cools down. It is a popular and cost-effective manufacturing process to create items such as tubing, channels and stripping.

The future of profile extrusion

While the plastic extrusion process has remained relatively the same over the years, changes in equipment and technology have allowed manufacturers to create more high-quality finished products in the broader array of finishes and colors faster and more efficiently.

Double-strand extrusions also allow parts to be produced more quickly, reducing lead times and overall production costs. This and other technologies will allow for the creative customization of extruded pieces, making it a popular manufacturing process for more parts and products.

Another technology being perfected that will help reduce costs on the extrusion line is the introduction of gas-assist equipment for injection molding and profile extrusion production. Gas will be injected into the barrel extruder and into the mixing zone, which can help to eliminate the costs of adding a blowing agent. Gas-assisted extrusion will be most beneficial for the production of building materials, such as decking and window and door stripping.

How will changes in plastics and additives affect the future of the plastic extrusion process?

While advancements in profile extrusion machinery have not had as profound an impact as other manufacturing processes, additives, resins, and plastics have helped address concerns about sustainability and the environmental impact that plastics manufacturing produces.

With a desire to limit the use of natural resources such as oil in plastics production, a desire to find bio-sourced materials to counteract the need for petro-sourced materials has paved the way for the development of new plastics used in the plastic extrusion process. Along with the innovations in plastics and additives available during the plastic extrusion process, manufacturers can now produce plastic parts and products with a higher recyclability level and a lower impact on the environment.

Besides the fact that plastic extrusion allows for maximum use of the raw material, these changes enable plastic extrusion manufacturing to become a much more environmentally sound process for producing necessary plastic parts and products.

Additives are also an area where plastic extrusion manufacturing has seen significant changes and advancements. There are newer additives that help with heat resistance, allowing the trim and scrap to be utilized more economically and reduce the degradation during the extrusion process.

These additives also allow the time between die cleaning to be lengthened, which will help to increase production and profitability.

Other additives are designed to improve the properties of the polymers. For example, compatibilizers will lengthen the polymer chains on multi-polymer mixes, which will help to increase their use. While these additives can be more expensive per pound, very little is needed to get the desired effect, meaning that they have little effect on the overall cost of the production run.

While additives, such as colorants, are commonly performed on the plastic extrusion line, it is expected that the use of heat stabilizers and UV absorbers will also increase.

How has the profile extrusion market changed?

As the world continues to evolve and change, so has the plastic profile extrusion market. The recent pandemic and changes in how the world does business have left a lasting mark on several industries, including plastics manufacturing.

Production delays caused by shut-downs, lack of staffing, and supply chain interruptions have caused a backlog in manufacturing, especially in areas such as the automotive industry, where the inability to secure proper volume of parts has led to delays in new car production as well as repairs.

While the backlog is expected to rectify itself as the effects of the pandemic begin to wane, it has opened the eyes of many companies to issues in supply chain and production processes. This has pushed companies to find ways to produce needed products, and plastic profile extrusion is one of the most efficient ways to manufacture plastic parts and products that maintain a consistent profile.

Another issue the recent pandemic has brought to light is supply chain interruptions when relying on overseas manufacturing. As North America had become increasingly dependent on overseas manufacturers, overseas shut-downs, manufacturing quality issues, customs clearance, and shipping delays had caused the backlog even to be more significant. This led to increased difficulty in achieving custom demands. Because of this, many companies have looked to North American producers to provide them with their manufactured parts to avoid unforeseen delays and allow for more reliable quality and shipping control.

Another way the plastic extrusion market has been affected is in the housing and construction industry. With shutdowns keeping people home and many companies now offering remote work options, home renovation projects, new home builds, and other construction has seen high demand. This, combined with low-interest rates and stimulus money, has allowed homeowners to begin planning long put-off projects.

Projects for home renovation, construction, and landscaping improvements often use parts created from plastic and using a continuous profile. Siding, plastic tubing, parts for doors and windows, and other home parts and materials are often made from plastic polymers and can be made most effectively and quickly using the plastic profile extrusion method.

cbm future plastic extrusion

What are the advantages of choosing plastic extrusion?

Profile extrusion manufacturing has been popular for small and large linear plastic parts, and product runs. There are many advantages to choosing profile extrusion over other popular plastic production methods, such as injection molding. Some of the primary benefits of this manufacturing process include the following:

Lower tooling and production costs

Plastic extrusion is one of the most efficient and lower-cost plastic production processes. Since the thermoplastic used will go through repeated processes of heating and hardening, much of the material can be reused, and little waste is produced, leading to a lower cost of raw materials. Tooling costs are also low, and the extruder die can be reused for multiple runs. Additionally, plastic extrusion machines can run continuously, allowing for 24-hour production when running multiple shifts.

Greater flexibility during production

Unlike other forms of plastic manufacturing, the custom plastic extrusion process will allow greater flexibility during production. With the same die, you can produce varying lengths and thicknesses and form various complex shapes as long as the cross-section remains the same. This allows making minor alterations, such as mixing plastics without incurring interruption in the run and re-tooling costs.

The ability for alterations after extrusion

Since the polymer is still hot when it comes out of the extruder, post-extrusion manipulations can easily be made using other dies, rollers, and shoes. These can help to alter the final shape of the formed product, allowing you to create a variety of manipulations in one production run.

What are the disadvantages of extrusion?

While there are many advantages to choosing plastic extrusion for your plastic parts or manufacturing process, some drawbacks come with this process. The primary disadvantages of plastic extrusion include the following:

The possibility of plastic expansion

As the hot plastic exits the extruder, there is the possibility that the product will expand, which is often referred to as die swell. While you can try to account for this expansion, the exact amount of growth is hard to determine, so the deviations in the dimensions of the final product may be more challenging to control.

Limitations with produced products

While many alterations and customizations can be made with plastic extrusion, the process is limited to producing plastic parts or products with a consistent profile. Other more complicated or detailed parts or products with varying shapes may need to be produced using injection molding or thermoforming.

Will plastic extrusion continue to grow in the future?

With the development of newer and novel plastics, increasing innovation in processing technology, and a growing need for efficiently produced plastic parts in the global market, the demand for parts made through the plastic extrusion process is expected to grow.

The piping industry is expected to grow, with the plastic extrusion process being one of the most efficient ways to produce these products. There is also a growing awareness of plastic extrusion machines and how they are considered environmentally friendly opinions over other manufacturing equipment. This, along with the ever-increasing innovation in more environmentally-friendly plastics, is making plastic extrusion more popular across the globe.

The growth forecast in the automotive and construction industries is also expected to drive plastic profile extrusion forward, as extruded profile pieces are essential in manufacturing automotive and construction parts.

CBM Plastics is your go-to for all your custom plastic extrusion production needs

Whether you are looking to create a new product using plastic or produce plastic parts with continuous profiles, CBM Plastics can help you through the production process every step of the way. From assisting with determining the right plastic process to ensuring that your job is delivered promptly, CBM Plastics is your go-to when you need your plastic profile job done right.

We focus on the latest innovations and technologies in the plastic manufacturing space so that your job will be produced at the highest quality and as efficiently as possible. Our U.S.-based location also allows us to provide more solid delivery times without the need to worry about customs delays. Whether you are in the planning stages of your plastics project or ready to begin production, our plastic manufacturing specialists are here to help. Contact us today to get started.