Modern Plastics Production Technology

Plastic Advances Are Changing the Manufacturing Industry

As the articles below will demonstrate, advances in plastics technology are changing and improving things faster than your perceptions of plastic can keep up with. Only a couple decades ago, replacing conventional materials with plastic was considered cheap and represented a sacrifice in quality. Today, using plastics is often the better choice, and offers many advantages.

Unless you are in the plastics industry, you probably don't realize how much is being done with plastic. When you walk into a building, the beautiful “crystal” light fixtures might be plastic. The “ceramic tile” you walk on could be plastic. The “marble and granite” used in the decor may very well be plastic. The “glass” headlight lenses on your vehicle are most likely plastic, and they are much less likely to break than real glass.

Many of the drawbacks to using materials such as metal, wood, glass, and stone are eliminated or reduced by using plastics. The use of plastics is not only less expensive to produce in many cases, it often reduces the cost of ownership as there is little or no maintenance and greater longevity.

We hope you find the information here enlightening. It may alter your perception of plastic and open a whole new realm of possibilities in how plastic can solve your manufacturing needs.

Yes You Can Do That With Plastic

When you think of what you can do with plastic, maybe your credit cards come to mind. If we mention nylons, your first thought is probably about women's hosiery. As exciting as that would be, there is a whole side to plastics you might not think about very often.

For those who are old enough to remember, think about the automobiles that were coming out in the late 1970's and 1980's. As auto manufacturers began using more plastics, most of us rightfully perceived it as cheap because these plastics were not good replacements for conventional methods.

The U.S. government was mandating reduced vehicle weight, increased fuel efficiency, and cleaner emission standards. It was trial by fire because manufacturers were not yet ready. The result was that almost any impact would basically destroy one of these more delicate vehicles compared to their resiliency in earlier decades.

We have now come through the trial, and we are stronger because of it. The plastic body panels on cars are now more resilient than the metal they replaced. Instead of dents and dings, plastics now flex and spring right back into shape with no evidence of any impact. Instead of rust, plastics stay looking new much longer.

Today's plastics can even withstand heat, chemicals, petroleums, and the harsh effects of ultra violet radiation from the sun. The idea of a plastic engine may seem far fetched, but it is closer to reality than you may think. Lightweight, injection molded parts are in close proximity to engine components producing heat in excess of 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

Your car probably wears nylons.

Lift the hood on most of today's cars and behold a thing of beauty. This does more than provide an impressive showroom appearance, it stays looking new for years, reduces vehicle weight, and even performs better. Many of these parts are possible because of advances in nylon technology. They resist the high engine temperatures and warping that prevented their use for many years.

These high tech nylons are finding their way into places many would have thought impossible a few years ago. You can find injection molded nylon in transmission parts and covers, exhaust outlets and sensors, brake pistons, and even rocker panels. In addition to heat resistance, these parts must also withstand cold impact, a traditional weakness of plastics. Can they take it? They can now.

This has been a brief look at automotive application only, but these are just a few examples that say, yes you can do that with plastic. Next, we will look at other ways plastics technology is changing manufacturing.

Yes You Can Do That With Plastic Too

We just looked at some uses of plastic in the automotive industry that would have been thought impossible just a few years ago. The use of plastic no longer needs to be perceived as cheap. Because of the advances being made, plastics may be a better choice; they are often more durable, longer lasting, and usually lighter in weight.

Because plastic is easily recycled, it is being used in more creative ways all the time, which results in less waste. Consider plastic alternatives to wood used to construct park benches, picnic tables, playground equipment, furniture, even decks and boardwalks. As treated lumber has received bad press for making people sick, plastic is an attractive option.

When used as an alternative to wood, there are no splinters, no harmful chemical releases, and no maintenance costs. Taxpayers are saved the expense of refinishing and other maintenance, replacement, pulling items in for winter storage, and then having to set back up again in the spring.

Many plastic products are resistant to ultra-violet rays from the sun. They do not warp, crack, peel, chip, rot, or give you slivers. That might be bad news for the tweezer industry, but it is something to consider when building your next patio deck or play center for the kids. With some of the plastic products available, you will not have to sand, stain, or paint.

Once you build that deck, you can furnish it with plastic furniture in every style and price range. You could buy simulated wood with all the benefits already listed. You can leave it out all winter if you want to. You can buy inexpensive chairs that easily stack, are lightweight, attractive, and durable. Unlike metal, they will not rust.

If you want a breathable furniture cover material far superior to canvas, a plastic coated polyester mesh will dry quickly after a rain, it will not rip or tear, and it never rots. If you wanted an umbrella that softens the rays of the sun on your patio table, this would be a nice option.

Are those things real?

Plastic manufacturing techniques are getting so advanced that plastic is increasingly finding its way into homes, offices, and even structural interior design. Acrylic can be made with sharp edges and sculptured features that rival crystal chandeliers and glass block, and at a fraction of the weight.

You might think you are walking on ceramic or wood floors. You might think the counter tops are granite or marble. What looks like glass won't break. You are surrounded by a lot more plastic than you probably ever stop to think about.

Plastic parts for furniture can be manufactured in a single step, saving time, production costs, and labor. It can be integrated with other materials like aluminum and steel into a single step manufacturing process. The look, feel, color, texture, and all other attributes allow for any functionality, or aesthetics, that the human imagination can come up with.

Gentlemen, it has all been rebuilt. It is better, stronger, faster…it usually costs less and lasts longer too.

Places for More Information

You may also want to take advantage of the other resources here for more information on plastics and their use in manufacturing. We also welcome any feedback for resources you would like to see added.

Other Resource Pages on this Site:

Resources for Lean Manufacturing
Resources for Small Business