In addition, plastic fabricators have a number of different plastics at their disposal, such as acrylics, nylon, polyethylene, polyester, polystyrene, and polyvinyl chloride, each with different characteristics. Materials are matched to products based on how the material’s properties will support or enhance the product’s application requirements. For example, those plastic products made for applications in the food and medical industries must be both non-toxic and contaminant resistant.
In order to avoid damage or contamination or corruption from exposure to substances like fats, oils and bodily fluids, they must also be watertight. In addition, plastic materials formed into machine hardware and parts must have a high tensile strength and the ability to withstand abrasion, moisture, and oil exposure and resist chemicals. Similarly, plastic parts used in the automotive industry must be vibration and shatter resistant.
Most of these plastics are delivered to a plastic fabricator as raw, plastic resin, in the form of flakes, powder, or small granules. In order to transform this resin into usable parts or products, plastic fabricators must engage in one or more of those fabrication methods mentioned above.
Extrusion and injection molding are both thermoforming processes that involve heating the plastic resin until it is molten in order to force it through a die or mold cavity, respectively, where it takes the shape of the die or mold, cools and hardens.
Another fabrication process, plastic welding, involves heating two pieces of thermoplastic until they become viscous, and then pressing them together, allowing their molecules to mix one single peice.
Mechanical processes like plastic assembly, bending, cutting, drilling, engraving, etching, punching, stamping, and tapping are all post-formation fabrication processes. Only a requirement of some products, processes like these allow plastic fabricators to make any changes necessary.
Also note that welding, cutting, and gluing are all assembly operations, which help form finished products by bringing different plastic parts together. Examples of plastic products finished via assembly include carts, display racks, enclosures, plastic tanks, signs, and toys.
In addition, these different plastic fabrication processes create not only independent products, but parts that serve as important components of other products and systems. Plastic parts like these include: bolts, nuts, screws, guide rings, o-rings, wear rings, insulators, adaptors, bearings, bushings, spacers, and shims.
Almost always, plastic fabrication processes are performed with the help of automated computer software called computer numerical controlled (CNC) software. CNC machinery is a great asset, facilitating much faster and more efficient operations than those operations carried out manually by technicians. Along these lines, CNC machinery also renders human error a virtual non-factor, instead producing high volumes of identical, highly complex parts and products. The CNC programming is still, of course, chosen and set by plastic fabricators.
Plastic fabricators not only carry out the fabrication and assembly stages of product creation, but, often, they help design them as well. When they are engaging in the design process, they consider many factors, such as: working temperature ranges, size parameters, temper (hardness or softness), color, and tensile strength requirements. Generally, plastic fabricators offer products in pre-engineered designs and standard sizes, presenting customers with examples and dimensions from which to choose, but they also willingly design specialized and custom-made pieces for those who request them.
The role of plastic fabricators in the modern world cannot really be overstated; they are the silent enablers of everyday operations, from putting leftover food in plastic storage containers to running a pump system.
Because plastic fabricators are the source of all plastic products, every consumer of plastic components relies on them for the creation of the products they need. Everything from stock products like plastic washers to custom products for specialized electronics must be created by a fabricator.