Unveiling Plastics: A Comprehensive Exploration of Composition and Manufacturing Processes

Published: 2024-01-17
Unveiling Plastics: A Comprehensive Exploration of Composition and Manufacturing Processes
Essay type:  Process essays
Categories:  Technology
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1771 words
15 min read

Plastics form a cluster of either natural or synthetic materials shaped while soft and later hardened to maintain the required shape. They are polymers. A polymer is a substance composed of numerous recurring units. Besides, it may be perceived as a chain that is linked to a sole unit. The chain is composed by linking or polymerizing at least 1,000 links jointly (Decho & Gutierrez, 2017). They are also available in different colors and maybe either rigid or rubbery. Some of the plastic's shape comprises tubes, balls, cubes, pipe, hex, rod, and sheet. Remarkably, plastic materials include polyethylene (PE), polycarbonate (PC), polyurethane (PU), poly (vinyl chloride) (PVC), polyamides (PA) (Nylons), and polyester (PES). Others include polyethylene terephthalate (PET), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), high impact polystyrene (HIPS), polystyrene (PS), and polypropylene (PP) (Shim et al., 2016). Plastics, furthermore, have numerous applications. For example, it is used to make appliances, electrical connectors, disposable cups, cutlery, CD and cassette, bottles, and others such as head and fender liners. They are also used to make ID cards, fridges, liners, food packaging, eyeglasses, plates, pipes, and seat backs.

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Plastics are mainly composed of carbon-based atoms. Carbon atoms may link to other atoms to a maximum of four chemical bonds. Besides, in plastics, the carbon atoms may link to sulfur, chlorine, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen (Shim et al., 2016). Where such linking atoms lead to long chains, the polymer is called Thermoplastic that is meltable. It is significant to note that all thermoplastics comprise repeating units that are the smallest identical part of the chain. In most of the plastics, approximately 92% are thermoplastics (Shim et al., 2016). Plastics normally comprise a high molecular weight denoting that each molecule may contain numerous atoms bounded jointly. Besides, the naturally occurring plastics, for example, rosin, horn, and wood are made up of the high molecular weight. Similarly, synthetic or manufactured plastics are always designed to impersonator the features of naturally occurring materials. Therefore, plastics are manufactured by converting natural materials or synthesizing chemicals generally derived from coal, natural gas, and oil.

Plastic design encompasses numerous critical factors involving many aspects, such as production, material selection, and tooling. It is primarily essential to produce plastic around functional requirements by maintaining the design intention and keeping its end-use (Shim et al., 2016). Therefore, it is important to consider weight decrease, fabrication elimination, enhancing structural components, steps of assembly, and cost reduction while designing plastics.

Plastics have different characteristics. For instance, they are lightweight. They are lighter than metals and wood, among others (Oyedun et al., 2014). They are also resistant to chemicals. They are not affected by alkaline and acids. Natural polymers, such as wool and cotton, are, however, affected by acids. They are furthermore electric and heat insulators. This aspect is attributed to the fact that they are bad conductors of both heat and electricity. They may also be processed differently to manufacture intricate molded parts, foams, sheets, and fibers (Oyedun et al., 2014). Ultimately, they tend to melt while exposed to flame.

Manufacturing Process

Numerous methods may be utilized to produce plastics. They include injection molding, extrusion, rational molding manufacturing, vacuum forming, and plastic compression molding. In this paper, injection molding was selected since it is the most commonly utilized production process used in the manufacture of plastics. It necessitates using an injection molding machine, mold, and raw plastic materials (Mendible et al., 2017). Furthermore, the plastic melted within the molding machine and injected into the mold to cool and solidify in the final phase. Therefore, there are key phases involved in the injection molding essential in modifying raw plastic material's characteristics and performance to desired plastic products.

Process Cycle

There are four main stages involved in injection molding. The process is concise, and in most cases, it takes between two seconds and two minutes. Therefore, the entire process comprises clamping, injection, cooling, and ejection.


Before injecting raw materials into the mold, its two halves must initially be securely closed through the clamping unit. Besides, every half is attached to the injection molding machine, where one can slide. A hydraulically steered clamping unit pushes the mold halves together and exerts enough force to ensure that the mold is securely closed when injecting the materials (Mendible et al., 2017). There required time to both close and clamp the mold is based on the type of machine used. For example, big machines with higher clamping forces will need more time. Remarkably, the required time is calculated from the machines' dry cycle time.


Furthermore, raw materials plastics, normally in pellet form, are inserted in the injection molding machine to progress to the mold through the injection unit. In this procedure, the material is melted using pressure and heat (Mendible et al., 2017). In turn, the molten plastic is injected into the mold within the shortest time possible, where the buildup pressure tends to hold and pack the material. Notably, the quantity of materials injected is known as a shot. It is difficult to accurately calculate the injection time because of the complexity and altering the molten plastic's flow toward the mold (Mendible et al., 2017). It may, nonetheless, be projected through injection power, injection pressure, and shot volume.


The molten plastic within the mold starts to cool upon coming in contact with the mold's interior surfaces. While cooling, it solidifies in the desired shape. Some shrinkage may, however, happen during the cooling process. The packing material within the injection phase permits different materials to flow in the mold and decreases the visible shrinkage quantity. Until the needed cooling time has elapsed, the mold is not opened. Thus, the cooling time is calculated through the optimal wall thickness and different thermodynamic characteristics of plastic.


After adequate time has elapsed, the cooling components may be removed from the mold using the ejection system linked to the mold's rear half. While the mold is opened, operators utilize some mechanism to push the mold out. Besides, force should be used to remove the part since plastic shrinks and may follow the mold during cooling. Also, to aid in part ejection, it is advisable to spray a mold release agent on the mold surfaces (Mendible et al., 2017). There required time in opening the mold and ejecting the part may be calculated from the machine's dry cycle time. It includes the requirement for the plastic part to fall from the mold. Ultimately, once the plastic part is removed, the mold may be clamped close for the upcoming shot that is to be injected.

Overall Description and Technology Bases

The main technology involved in injection molding is the use of injection molding machines. They have various components with different configurations, such as vertical and horizontal configurations. Despite their design, every injection molding machine uses a power source, clamping unit, mold assembly, and injection unit to complete the plastic manufacturing process's four phases (Berger et al., 2019).

The Injection Unit

It is essential for both injecting and heating the material in the mold. Its initial part is a hopper which is a large container where raw plastic is placed. It permits the materials to move to the barrel with mechanisms that heat and inject the material into the mold. In most cases, the mechanism is a ram injector that propels material forward via a heated part with a plunger or ram that is hydraulically powered (Mendible et al., 2017). The materials then move into the screw grooves and progress to the mold as the screw is rotated. Besides, it is melted through friction, pressure, and heaters. These components are produced within the reciprocating screw as it moves. Ultimately, the melted plastic is quickly added to the mold via the nozzle towards the barrel's end through the screw's forward action and pressure buildup (Berger et al., 2019). The screw retracts and fills additional materials for the next shot after solidifying material within the mold.

Clamping Unit

Before adding the liquefied plastic to the mold, the halves mentioned above, and the clamping unit securely close them. Furthermore, the hydraulically stirred clamping motor actuates clamping bars pushing the portable platen to the fixed platen (Berger et al., 2019). It exerts enough force that securely maintains the mold close, whereas the material undergoes injection and cooling. The clamping motor opens the mold after the needed cooling time has elapsed. Besides, the ejector bar actuates an ejection mechanism attached to the mold's rear half, pushing the solidified plastic out through the open cavity.

Quality Control Methodology and Resources

In plastic injection molding, a comprehensive quality control methodology must be adhered to to ensure the plastic material produced is of the desired quality. A common QC methodology involves raw materials, visual, quality station, and final part inspections. In raw material inspections, raw plastic is assessed to confirm it is of the right standards (Li et al., 2019). Their chemical and physical aspects are assessed to verify whether their regulations and specifications have been met. A significant challenge may arise where there are numerous raw materials and parts. They may make it hard to perform quality control on each one of them. Visual inspection encompasses directly inspecting the injection molding machine's parts. Some of the common defects identified and rectified include flash, burn, short, and sink marks. Significant challenges include inaccurate inspections and high costs since highly skilled individuals must be employed. These challenges may, however, be overcome through the use of automated inspection systems. Besides, in quality station inspection, various parts at the quality station should be assessed for detailed particulars such as failure tests and measurements. This quality control methodology's significant challenge is evaluating different parts involved production process (Li et al., 2019). Since there are numerous parts involved in the injection molding procedure, it is challenging to perform quality control. Besides, this is due to the possibility of quality issues, and production errors normally increase while dealing with a complicated process.

Final Inspection, Packaging, and Logistics

In the final inspection, the finished plastic undergoes the last inspection. This helps ensure that there is consistency across all the production shifts of the plastic injection molding. Besides, produced plastic is packed based on a particular plastic's type and properties (Li et al., 2019). For example, fragile plastics are packed in boxes surrounded by bubble wrap and packing papers. The final user of the manufactured plastic materials and the properties of a particular plastic determines the logistics used. For example, plastic materials may be delivered by road to consumers located near the plastic production plant. Besides, for bulky plastic materials, rail or water transport may be the most convenient transport mode.

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Unveiling Plastics: A Comprehensive Exploration of Composition and Manufacturing Processes. (2024, Jan 17). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/unveiling-plastics-a-comprehensive-exploration-of-composition-and-manufacturing-processes

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