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Discover what’s on our minds and let us know what’s on yours.  Check back often to learn about new thoughts, events, information, or ideas we have regarding the possibilities of plastic extrusion!

Introducing Mat Edging By Formtech

On January 12, 2018 | by Formtech | in Blog, What's New

 

We are proud to introduce the newest way we can serve you: Mat and carpet edging!

What is mat/carpet edging?

Mat/carpet edging accommodates products from all major manufacturers, including spaghetti mats, carpets, woven materials, as a transition material from floor to mat surface. The product helps to reduce trips, minimize the mat’s movement, and create a clean esthetic to showcase the mat or carpeting.

 

What’s special about our mat edging?

Our plastic compound is specially formulated to provide a smooth, matte, durable surface finish. Our premium edging resists scuffs and marring better than gloss or satin surface finishes, and is easier to clean and maintain. Our profiles are precise because we own the tooling and can maintain them, ensuring consistency, quality, and competitive pricing. Our team offers excellent service and product knowledge–if you have a question or need help, we are at your service.

 

Sizes available:

0.125″ Height Low Profile

 

 

0.250″ Height Medium Profile

 

 

0.320″ Height Mid-Range Profile

 

 

0.375″ Height High Profile

 

 

Don’t see a size that fits your needs?

Because we are a custom plastic extrusion company, we are able to offer sizes outside of these standard four options, larger or smaller. Please call or contact us today and we will get started on your project.

 

Colors available:

Black onyx, brown, and safety yellow are our stock colors available, though more colors are available upon request. You can call or contact us to see if your desired color is available for shipment.

 

Are you interested in learning more?

Download our mat edging brochure here or contact us here for details.

Would you like a sample?

Call our Business Development Administrator, Aleisha Stout at 330-688-2171 extension 122 for your complimentary sample to see the smooth, black onyx finish and high quality material for yourself.

Do you have a question?

You can reach us here, email sales@formtech.com, or call 330-688-2171. We are here to help!

Are you ready to order? Do you have a question?

You can reach us here, email sales@formtech.com, or call 330-688-2171 for pricing and lead times as early as same day.

Custom Plastic Extrusion Terms – Part Four

On December 19, 2017 | by Formtech | in Blog, Featured News

We hope you found part one, part two, and part three of our four-part series on extrusion terms helpful in understanding various plastic profile extrusion terminology.

In part one of the series we discussed extrusion industry terms you may hear during conversations and in printed materials related to extruders and tooling for the extrusion industry. In part two of our series, we tackled the top 10 thermoplastic extrusion terms relating to ancillary, or downstream equipment used to manufacture custom plastic profiles, tubing and other hollow profiles. In part three of the series, we addressed material terms you may hear extrusion suppliers talk about when they discuss plastic materials.

In the final blog on plastic extrusion terminology, we are going to dive into processing terms you will likely hear a plastic extrusion supplier use when talking with you about the process. Read our top ten extrusion processing terms below:

Weld Line or Sink Marks– During the design of a plastic extruded profile, areas where intersection legs occur are prone to a visible line opposite where the legs intersect. First, what causes the line. If you take a close look at a drawing for a plastic profile with an intersection leg, you will see there is more mass in the area of the intersection. Since thermoplastic materials shrink some during the cooling process, the intersection of two legs cools at a slower rate than the rest of the profile, causing it to shrink more due to the mass of the profile. As extrusion tooling is being designed, there are “tricks of the trade” used to minimize this line, or sink mark in the final part. A tool designer would typically separate the flow of the two legs within the die, and allow them to come back together as the extrudate is being compressed to the front of the extrusion die. This can in some cases create a weld line where the two melt streams are brought back together so careful tuning of the extrusion tooling is critical to minimize this line. Another option is to turn the potential issue into a design feature, by designing indentations on the side opposite the intersection leg. The drawing below shows some options for designers to consider when dealing with a custom profile extrusion with intersecting legs to create features on the exposed surfaces.

Camber & Bow– As extruded profiles are being conveyed down the extrusion line, the cooling process begins. Common methods of cooling plastic extrusions include water, air, and even a combination of both depending on the product. In some cases during high speed extrusion, warm water may be used so the surface of the product is not shocked, which could cause physical property issues. In the case of multi-hollow extruded plastic profiles, cryogenic cooling using nitrogen may be used to rapidly cool the inner legs of the extrude product to maintain profile integrity and increase line rates. Even, consistent cooling during the conveying period is critical to maintaining straightness of the extruded profile. There are two terms used by plastic profile extrusion companies; bow and camber, to define lack of straightness. An extruded profile is considered to have bow when the part exhibits side to side warping. Camber is a term to define up and down warping of the profile. Generally, tolerances are set-up during the design and tooling development phases, and then checked as part of the ongoing quality assurance checks performed during production of the plastic profile extrusion.

Cross Section– The easiest way to define cross-section is to look at the end of the product in a two-dimensional view. The above illustrations demonstrate the cross section of the four examples showing ways to design around sink marks. In this case each of the four drawings show different cross sections of the extruded profiles. Cross sectional drawings of profiles are used by the Formtech quality assurance group and our production operators for quality assurance measurements and checks. The drawings are dimensioned, with tolerances to allow multiple quality operations to be performed using a variety of equipment such as digital calipers, micrometers and optical comparators.

Back Pressure– If you look the overall extrusion process, thermoplastic materials are under some type of compression from the time the material enters the hopper on the machine, until the material exits the front of the extrusion die. The compression area just before the extrusion die and flowing through the extrusion die is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). Too little backpressure during this process will result in loss of profile integrity and physical properties. Too much backpressure can cause safety concerns as well as potential equipment damage, so it is important for the extrusion operator to monitor back pressure during the process using pressure gauges on the extruder and inserted into the die.

Tolerances– The custom plastic extrusion process involves melting plastic, forcing it out of the extrusion die, and then controlling the plastic profile shape and size at the part is cooled. As with any manufacturing process, the extruded profile will vary slightly during the process necessitating tolerances on key dimensions. Tolerances on plastic extrusions impact fit and function, and the best time to start looking at tolerance requirements is during the initial design phase. By working with Formtech early in the process, we can provide design for manufacturing assistance including tolerance requirements. Typically, a control print will be developed by our quality assurance group to include dimensions and tolerances for critical dimensions, along with a control plan for use by our manufacturing and quality assurance groups. For a more detailed explanation about how tolerances impact pricing, and a general tolerance guide, please click here.

Bulk Density– Bulk density is defined as the weight per unit volume of the plastics purchased by Formtech for use in custom extrusion applications. Bulk density impacts flow and feed rates on the extruder, and variations in bulk density of the plastic will cause variations in size so it is an important consideration for custom extrusion manufacturing operations

Die Swell– We talked about back pressure above, and the importance of having the appropriate amount of back pressure during the extrusion process for physical property control. The back pressure is caused by compression inside the extruder and extrusion tooling. Once the plastic compound exits the extrusion die in a compressed form, the compound will relax, or expand slightly. This is referred to as die swell. Die swell is material specific, meaning for example a vinyl (PVC) material will experience a different die swell than a Polyethylene or Polypropylene compound. Experience tells our tooling engineers the amount of die swell we typically get by material, and this is a critical consideration in tooling design.

Purging– In the extrusion process cleaning materials out of barrels, screws and plastic extrusion tooling takes time and increases cost. For instance, if material changes are being made on the line from one job to the next, this could involve removing and cleaning the die, pulling the screw on the machine to clean, and brushing out the barrel of the machine while the screws are out. Ultra-stabilized compounds have been developed that allow cleaning all these items, and flushing the system using these purging compounds. In fact, the purging materials are so stable they can even be left in the extrusion die during storage, put back on the extruder the next time the job needs to run, and started without time consuming cleaning. The normal compound will push the purge out of the die when it exits. Another use for purge compounds would be during shutdown for weekends or holidays. Formtech extrusion technicians use purge materials when shutting some lines down for these periods to clean and protect the extruder and die. For some materials like Polyethylene and Polypropylene this is not required, but for PVC for instance, the material will degrade within the tool if it is left to cool and then be reheated for start-up.

Starve Feeding– When operating an extruder, materials are fed to the extrusion screws and barrel to make the plastic extrusion. There are really two methods that can be used to accomplish this feeding process. First, the material can be contained in a hopper directly above the feed-throat of the extruder and fed by gravity. The screws will then take in the maximum amount of material they can with every revolution of the machine, and this is called flood feeding. An alternative to flood feeding is to add a metering device at the feed-throat to control the amount of material introduced to the screws. The flights of the screw are not completely filled with every revolution of the machine. This is called starve feeding of the extruder, and offers some advantages to the extrusion technician in certain situations. By not filling the screw channel completely, it offers more control to the technician, and removes some other variables that can occur with flood feeding.

Surging– Surging is bad! Surging has always been one of the most common process variation on a single screw extruder. For every revolution of a single screw machine, there is some slippage back over the flights of the screw. This slippage is advantageous for mixing of materials and colorants, but it creates an opportunity for some surging and variation with the screw revolution. With this being the case, differing pressures as material comes off the screw can cause this processing issue for the extrusion technician. Surging means variation, and this can impact size & tolerance control. Proper screw design for the type of plastic compound being extruded is extremely important to the process to minimize surging. Perhaps we will do a future blog on screw design, outlining the different zones of the screw and the function of each.

We hope our four-part series covering extrusion industry terminology review will help you better understand the extrusion process.

We are anxious to work with you and your team on your next plastic extrusion requirement. Give us a call at 614-531-9954, contact us, or email at sales@formtech.com for more information or a quotation.

Custom Plastic Extrusion Terms – Part Three

On November 14, 2017 | by Formtech | in Blog, Featured News, How Can We Help?

We hope you found parts one and part two of our four-part series on extrusion terms insightful and beneficial.

In the first of the series we discussed extrusion industry terms you may hear during conversations and in printed materials related to extruders and tooling for the extrusion industry. In part two of our series, we tackled the top 10 thermoplastic extrusion terms relating to ancillary, or downstream equipment used to manufacture custom plastic profiles, tubing and other hollow profiles.

In part three of the series, we are going to address material terms you may hear extrusion suppliers talk about when they discuss plastic materials. Extrusion companies tend to specialize in a group of raw materials. Formtech specializes in the following thermoplastic materials.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene styrene)

Acrylic (Polymethyl Methacrylate)

ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate)

Butyrate (Cellulose Acetate Butyrate)

WPC (Wood Plastic Composites)

PC (Polycarbonate)

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

LLDPE    (Linear Low-Density Polyethylene)

MDPE (Medium Density Polyethylene)

PP (Polypropylene)

PS (Polystyrene)

Rigid PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride in a hardened form)

Flexible PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride with plasticizers)

TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber)

For more detailed information on these materials, please click here.

What we want to do in part three of the series is dive into some terms you will hear regarding extrusion materials. Here is our top 10 review:

Thermoplastic – Any material, such as Polyethylene, PVC and ABS, which can be re-melted and reprocessed without considerable loss of properties or scrap loss. In other words, the scrap materials, both post-industrial and post-consumer, can be recycled and reused into other useful products. This differs from thermoset materials, such as fiberglass, that set up permanently during the curing process. These thermoset materials cannot be ground and reprocessed. As a point of interest, Formtech is actually a net consumer of reprocessed materials, meaning we use more than what we make during the manufacturing process. With an eye on green manufacturing, we practice manufacturing techniques that reduce scrap, and we aggressively seek out products and industries that allow us to practice environmental stewardship.

Compound – Compound is the classic definition of a plastic material prepared for subsequent manufacturing processes, specifically in extrusion and molding. Compounding is a process of blending plastics resins with other additives, and melting the materials during a heating or melting process. This process changes the physical, thermal, electrical or aesthetic characteristics of the plastic. Compounds can be tailored to a specific application, and by using a wide range of additives and fillers specific performance parameters can be met.

Dry Blend – A dry blend is a free-flowing blend of compound, or resin, and other ingredients as prepared for extrusion. Dry blend materials are important for processors that have twin-screw extrusion equipment available that can utilize the powder materials without the additional step of compounding and making pellets. Formtech has a variety of twin screw extrusion lines in our Athens, Georgia manufacturing facility that utilize dry blend compounds. When you think about it, a compound has already been processed once to make a pellet. By using the powder form, or dry-blend, the pelletizing process has been eliminated, and more processing aids remain in the material. This is good for everyone!

Masterbatch – A masterbatch is a compounded resin or additive already optimally dispersed in concentration and is compatible with the main resin in the process flow. Typically, a masterbatch is used when some of the ingredients are used in such small quantities that make it very difficult to dispense them at the extruder. For instance, an ingredient may need to be added at 0.02% in a formulation. This type of additive will typically be blended by the manufacturer into a masterbatch that can be added at a higher percentage, typically something over one to three percent for better control and dispersion.

Color Concentrate – Not everything is black and white, and the plastics industry is a classic example of this. Take a look around wherever you are right now. You will likely see red, or blue, or green, or yellow, or a rainbow of other colors in use in plastics around you. Formtech employs a wide variety of color concentrates to make a rainbow of colors depending on the application. Do you need 1957 Chevy Primer match for your application. We can do that!

Colorful plastic beads demonstrate color flexibilty with plastic materials

Plastic Beads Demonstrate the Colors Plastic Can Be

Pellets – Resins or mixtures of resins with compounding additives similar in shape or size that have been extruded or chopped into short segments to prepare them for molding operations.

Resin – Think of resin as the base ingredient in a plastic material formulation. These are the purest of plastic materials, but in most cases these resins cannot be extruded. Many other ingredients are then added to the base resin to enhance extrudability and performance of the plastic resin.

Polymer – Technically a polymer is a compound formed from two or more polymeric compounds through a process known as polymerization. In reality, many polymers are complex mixtures of resin, stabilizers, lubricants, processing aids and proprietary ingredients. The ingredients in a polymer will influence physical properties and performance of the polymer.

Processing Aid – An additive or component in a resin to facilitate processing. Some raw resins, like PVC, cannot be extruded without processing aids and other ingredients that help bind the material together during the melting and extrusion process. Processing aids can also improve surface aesthetics of the finished part by allowing the material to flow through the tooling.

Composite – By definition, a composite is a structural material consisting of a combination of materials. Typically, one of the materials is a strengthening agent, the other being a thermoplastic resin. Formtech manufactures a wide variety of composite products using wood fiber as the strengthening agent and PVC as the thermoplastic material. By utilizing these ingredients, we can increase stiffness and at the same time reduce thermal expansion and contraction. These physical properties are important in industries like construction, transportation, and a variety of other markets

We hope part three of our extrusion industry terminology review will help you better understand the extrusion process. Check back for the last part of our four-part series that will cover processing.

We are anxious to work with you and your team on your next plastic extrusion requirement. Give us a call at 614-531-9954 or email at sales@formtech.com for more information or a quotation.

Fun Fact Friday – Pasta!

On October 20, 2017 | by Formtech | in Blog, Featured News, What's New

I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t love pasta. Even the pickiest of toddlers enjoy the delicious, hearty, carb-filled food. October 17, 2017 was national pasta day. Mark your calendars next year to celebrate if you didn’t this past Tuesday! And as if having pasta in our lives wasn’t great enough, it comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes for our enjoyment. To make that possible, we rely on extrusion.

Each pasta–just like each plastic profile–comes from its uniquely shaped die.


photo credit

Extrusion is part of our everyday lives–even our dinner plates! For pasta extrusions, reach out to your local grocery store. For your plastic extrusion needs, reach out to Formtech.

Custom Plastic Extrusion Terms – Part Two

On October 19, 2017 | by Formtech | in Blog, Featured News, How Can We Help?

We hope you found part one of our four-part series on extrusion terms insightful. In the first of the series we discussed extrusion industry terms you may hear related to extruders and tooling for the extrusion industry.

In part two of our series, we are going to tackle the top 10 thermoplastic extrusion terms relating to ancillary or downstream equipment used to manufacture custom plastic profiles, tubing, and other hollow profiles.

 

Gravimetric Feeder– In part one of our series, we discussed that the hopper holds material that is fed into an extruder. These can be as simplistic as a steel “funnel” configuration that does little more than hold and feed material to very precise feeding systems that rely on gravimetric measurement to deliver accurate amounts of plastic material to the barrel and screw of the extruder. In tight tolerance situations, you will find many extrusion lines outfitted with this type of equipment. In the case of a custom color matched, single durometer extruded profile, you would have a   natural color base compound and a color concentrate.  This can be done with a gravimetric feeding system that feeds two materials to the extruder at the same time. When appropriate, a three-station unit can be used to feed in precise amounts of reprocessed plastic to manufacture the finished extruded profile in the most environmentally friendly way.

 

Vacuum Calibration–  In our first part of the series, we compared plastic extrusion to pasta making. Both processes use “ingredients” that are fed into an extruder, conveyed down the barrel with a screw, and are forced out a die to make a specific shape. In the case of pasta, there is very little heat created during this process. However, to make plastic into a product using the extrusion process, both frictional and external heat are used.  The heat forces the material through the extrusion die, then the manufacturer must captures the profile to maintain the overall shape and integrity of the profile during the cooling process. Water, other liquid coolants, or air can be used in the cooling process.  Tolerance requirements may dictate that vacuum calibration (also called vacuum sizers) be built and used to capture the profile, using vacuum to hold the extruded profile in place during the cooling process. Most vacuum sizers today use water for heat removal.

 

Cooling Systems– Methods of cooling are dependent on the profile design. In some cases, a simple water-pan can be used to hold water or other coolant. This type of equipment is widely used in the extrusion of flexible profiles such as screen splines, extruded gaskets, and other smaller profiles. Another option is systems designed to hold guides and coolant. However,  To manufacture more complex products (window lineal profiles, office partition base raceways, entry door seals, wood plastic composite components, wall protection corner guards & crash-rails, and other custom profile extrusions,) the extrusion manufacturer may use a calibration table. As the name implies, this is a very rigid stand that is designed to allow both vacuum sizing and water cooling tanks to be mounted for cooling and sizing purposes. The calibration stands vary in length to accommodate a wide variety of extruded plastic profiles. Typically, this type of stand has self-contained vacuum pumps along with both water and air supply with quick-change couplings to reduce set-up time during tooling changeovers.

Calibration Stand with Vacuum Sizers Mounted on the Stand

Embossing or Texturing– Many extruded profiles you see have textured or embossed patterns on the exposed surface. The next time you are in a commercial building look at the extruded handrails and corner guards protecting the walls and corners in the building. Most of these products will have a pebble grain embossed pattern on the surface to add to the aesthetic appeal of the product, while offering the protection and durability high impact, rigid plastic materials provide. Another great example of textured, or embossed products are the baseboards or wire raceway covers on open office partitions. These panels are subject to abuse from foot traffic as well as cleaning equipment, and the textured pattern helps minimize cuff marks and scratches. Formtech has embossing equipment at both manufacturing locations. Patterns can vary from a typical pebble grain, to custom designs, or to wood grain textures resembling real wood.

           Embossing & Textures

Tape Applicator– Many plastic extrusions have double sided adhesive tapes, or even magnetic strips, applied to them for additional functionality. Some examples of this added functionality on extruded plastic profiles would include point of purchase display tags, Velcro®, automobile body side moldings, wall protection corner guards, and weather stripping.  Anytime you here the term peel and stick, this is the added functionality the addition of pressure sensitive adhesive tapes can provide to your extrusion. Need to attach a vinyl extrusion to a piece of steel? Formtech can custom apply magnetic tape to the extrusion that will attach to a metal surface. You don’t need to attach to steel? Double sided foam and non-foam adhesive tapes specially formulated to adhere to a wide variety of surfaces can be applied to the plastic extrusion on an in-line process to maximize function and minimize cost. Formtech has considerable experience with tape application, and we have specially designed tape applicators that can be used for many custom extruded shapes.

                                  Applied Tape

Haul-Off– In extrusion jargon, you will hear many terms used to describe a puller, conveyor, or haul-off, which is used to pull and convey extruded profiles down the extrusion line before being cut to lengths you can see from the picture below, top and bottom cleats, or belts, are used to apply pressure on the extruded profile as it is being pulled downstream. The belts can be made from a variety of materials, including foam, silicone or even rubber. Careful adjustment is required to maintain the plastic extruded profile integrity, without distorting the shape as the product passes through the unit. In many cases an additional speed controller is located near the extruder so the line operator can speed up or slow down the haul-off when controlling the size of the extruded profile.

                    Haul Off & Traveling Saw

 

Cut Off Saws– Plastic extruded profiles are linear products, and must be cut to length before they are removed from the extrusion line and packaged. A traveling saw is used primarily with medium to large profiles. The traveling saw, or progressive saw, clamps onto the profile to move the cut-off saw downstream with the product until the saw can cut through the extrusion. Many traveling saws have the blade mounted above the profile, and cut down through the part much like a miter saw used by homeowners and contractors. Notice the progressive saw in the picture has the blade contained in the bottom of the unit, and it travels up through the plastic part. This can help control dust and saw chips more effectively when this type of saw can be used.

 

Fabrication Punch– The traveling saw has limitations, and is used only when extruded profiles are square cut at a 90° angle, or some consistent angle to make a trapezoid shape. This simplistic cut works for many customer applications where mill lengths are manufactured, or no additional fabrication is required. One of Formtech’s strengths is the capability to do additional, value added fabrication, both on an in-line and out-of-line basis. Many of the extruded products Formtech manufactures are components in OEM products. We strive to provide the extruded profiles completely finished when possible, including more sophisticated end cuts, holes, punch-outs and other fabrication that allows less labor and handling at your plant.

 

Fly Knife Cutter– Have you ever wondered how drinking straws are manufactured? These tiny tubes are extruded, and extrusion lines to manufacture these products run at speeds that can manufacture over 180,000 straws per hour. The only way to cut a plastic extrusion at this type of rate is to use what it commonly called a fly knife cutter. As the name suggests, the unit has one or more knives on a rotating wheel that cuts through the plastic extrusion as the wheel rotates. Many of these units are servo driven, meaning the blade can be extended to cut, and then retract at very high speeds. The blade, or blades, can also be fixed in an extended position to provide one or multiple cuts per revolution of the flywheel on the cutter. Fly knife cutters are typically used for small to medium size extruded profiles and can include cutter guides for very clean end cuts on the end product.

 

Digital Length Gauge– At Formtech, we would not consider our extrusion manufacturing facilities complete without digital read-out length gauges for our production and quality associates use during manufacture and inspection of your custom profile extrusion. We have this equipment in both the Fairview, PA and Athens, GA We believe that quality is defined by our customer’s expectations, and in the pursuit of superior quality, we emphasize the process of doing things right the first time. Extrusion dimensions are often measured in thousands of an inch, and we provide our teams with equipment that can accurately measure to this level. The operation of a digital length gauge is fairly simple. The measurement device is mounted to a very accurate set of linear rails, and the part is inserted onto the unit for measurement. One end of the plastic extrusion is held up to a fixed stop, and the rail on the opposite end slides along the linear rails until it contacts the other end of the extruded profile. The actual length of the part being measured is displayed on a digital read-out, with measurements showing to three or more decimal places. We involve and empower all our employees utilizing training, teamwork, and technology to the pursuit of superior quality. Pieces of equipment like the digital length gauges are tools we provide to back up this quality commitment.

We hope part two of our extrusion industry terminology review will help you better understand the extrusion process. Check back for parts three and four of our four-part series that will cover materials and processing.

We are anxious to work with you and your team on your next plastic extrusion requirement. Give us a call at 614-531-9954 or email at sales@formtech.com for more information or a quotation.