What makes manufacturing of plastics special?
Plastic has become an integral part of our lives and it is hard to even think of a life without products made of plastic. This is because of the incredible versatility of this material that finds applications in all industries and environments. Whether it is homes, offices, industries, airports, railway stations, or even automobiles, plastic products can be seen everywhere. Right from the small carry bags that are given to us by vegetable and fruit vendors to the dashboard in our cars are made of plastics. Even the chairs in an airport and the medical equipment in a hospital all make use of this incredible material thereby making plastic manufacturing really special.
Steps in manufacturing of plastics
The first step in the manufacturing of plastics is of course procurement of the raw material. While it was the resins from plants that was earlier used to make plastic products, the raw material for making plastics is now made synthetically. This raw material is derived from petrochemicals. Though available in all places, these petrochemicals are proving expensive causing the prices of plastic products to increase in recent times. This raw material is called monomer but synthesized to make a polymer. This polymer is then converted into a compound that can be produced easily. The final step is of course molding that gives shape to the final plastic product.
Manufacturing of plastics: Types
Basically there are two types of plastics known as thermosetting plastics and thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are the plastics that soften when brought near to a heat source. They easily melt upon allocation of heat and these plastics can be given any shape again and again. This is because there is no change in the composition and the properties of the material even if it is heated many times. The most common examples of this type of plastic are polyethylene and nylon. PVC also comes in this category that is used to make all sorts of pipes used in plumbing.
The second type of plastic that is commonly used is thermosetting plastic that softens upon heating but becomes very hard upon cooling. This is one drawback of this plastic that makes it unfit to be reshaped. However, because of their use in industries, these condensation polymers are produced in large quantities.
Processes of manufacturing of plastics
There are basically three important types of processes for manufacturing plastics. These are known as Roto casting, injection molding, and blown molding. These are actually different methods of casting and not the end product that remains plastic in all three cases or methods. All three processes have their own advantages and disadvantages and are used as per the requirement and the specifications of the customers. Blown molding is an interesting procedure that requires applying compressed air into the plastic raw material so that it gets blown to fit a mold. The mold is the enclosure that does not allow the plastic material to blow past it. This type of processing is not very accurate and it also leaves marks on the final product. However, being inexpensive, blow molding is still used in many places.
Manufacturing plastics that are biodegradable
Plastics, though they are extremely useful have often raised concerns from environmentalists because many plastic products are not biodegradable. This is particularly true about plastic bags used as carry bags by retailers to sell their products. These plastic bags are slowly getting banned in many countries forcing manufactures to make biodegradable plastic bags. This is a revolutionary step that is going t have a significant impact on the environment of the earth as it will help reduce plastic waste that is huge at present and posing problems in front of governments of many countries. Biodegradable plastic that is being produced today is made with raw material that comes from corn and pea starch. Plastic bags made with this material may be a little costly but they are certainly more environment friendly.
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