Discover answers to frequently asked questions about plastic extrusions, the manufacturing process, and Formtech’s capabilities.
What is plastic extrusion?
Plastic extrusion is a continuous process in which solid plastic pellets or powder are melted into an homogenous mass through a combination of applied heat and friction heat generated by the extrusion screw or screws transporting the material through a barrel. The mass or polymer melt is pushed through an extrusion die to produce a shape, tube or sheet. The extrudate is then cooled by various means into its final form and cut to length using various cut-off devices.
What is the difference between plastic extrusion and injection molding?
Extrusion is a continuous process, whereas, injection molding is a discrete manufacturing process. During extrusion, the extrudate is continually produced and cut-to-length to form a part whereas, injection molding requires a cycle during which the mold is opened, filled with plastic, closed, plastic is cooled, mold opens and finished part is expelled.
How do I know what material I will need?
The material that you will need will depend on the characteristics of your product and its application. Formtech can help you choose a material if we understand the following properties:
- What is the application of the product?
- How do you expect the finished profile to perform in its application?
- Will the part see any load?
- Will the part be used outdoors?
- Will the part be exposed to sunlight or UV rays?
- What temperature range will the part be exposed to?
- What are the color requirements?
- Is electrical conductivity an issue?
- Are there any regulatory requirements? (UL, NSF, USDA, FDA, etc.)
Can Formtech fabricate plastic extrusions?
Yes, Formtech has extensive capabilities in online and offline fabrication. Please see our fabrication page for more information.
What does Formtech need in order to quote my product?
Formtech will request the following information in order to provide a quotation:
- A drawing of the profile to quote. AutoCAD files in DXF or DWG format are preferred. Tolerances should be included on the drawing.
- Annual volume
- Estimated order quantity
- Part length(s)
- Preferred plastic resin and/or material properties desired
- Part color(s). Note that if the part is to be color matched, a sample of the color desired is required to provide the most accurate quote.
- Part appearance requirements (i.e. embossing pattern, critical aesthetic surfaces, etc.)
- Fabrication requirements with desired tolerances
- Packaging requirements
- Sample submission requirements
- Application information and/or information regarding mating parts
What are your standard lead times?
Formtech’s standard lead times for production orders are typically 2-4 weeks if no stocking plan is in place. Requests for expedited orders will be considered.
What is extrusion tooling?
Extrusion tooling costs of a die, downstream calibration, and fabrication equipment. Molten plastic enters the die at an enlarged opening that gradually narrows (much like a funnel) as the plastic nears the exit point of the die. Next, the plastic passes through a series of sizers that hold the plastic in shape until it has cooled. The shape is cut to length with a cutter or saw. Fabrication equipment, including punches or embossing rolls can be used during this process to finish the product.
How expensive is extrusion tooling?
Extrusion tooling costs vary depending on the complexity of the profile, tolerances, raw material, and production volume, among other characteristics. Formtech can provide the tooling cost for your profile upon receiving this information.
Can Formtech build extrusion tooling?
Formtech does build some of its own extrusion tooling, with a full tool room and staff in its Fairview, Pennsylvania facility. Further, Formtech has developed excellent relationships with tool makers across the globe, giving us additional tool building support and resources.