Plastics are one of the basic building components that have changed the way many of our everyday products are made. From a simple toothbrush to a ballistic tip of a projectile used by the military, the use of plastics is present everywhere. With its relatively low cost, ease of manufacture, durability and water resistance, plastics have replaced many traditional items made of paper, metal, glass and ceramics. Advances in chemical engineering, injection molding, 3-D printing, precision machining and surface finishing are continually pushing plastics into an ever expanding arena of manufacturing.
Some of the first organic plastics were discovered in the mid 1800’s but much of the foundation for the field of modern plastics was laid around the turn of the 20th century. Chemists like Herman Mark, the father of polymer physics, Hermann Staudinger and Leo Baekeland were pioneers in the infant industry. Baekeland is credited with coining the term “plastics” after successfully creating the first fully synthetic plastic, bakelite, in 1907 in New York.
Plastics are a group of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds commonly derived from petrochemicals, with a smaller sub-set of these compounds made from natural materials. Plasticity, the ability of any material to irreversibly deform without breaking, is a result of blending organic polymers with a high molecular mass with other substances. By isolating the specific applications, chemists are continually designing new custom grades of plastics used in everything from automotive housings to bags and hooks used in the medical industry.
Industrial plastics are available in tubes, rods, sheets, flats and pellets. Most are able to be processed with standard metalworking method and many can be fused together with custom welding rods and a plastic welder. Many of the burrs and machining lines can be mitigated through the use of centrifugal barrel finishing and vibratory deburring.
After heating the pellets and mixing them with other fillers and colorants, the molten mixture can be extruded (pushed) through specially designed dies to produce the desired profile. By using injection molding, the same molten material is forced into a machined cavity and allowed to cool. The resulting component typically requires some measure of plastic polishing through either deburring, deflashing or polishing.
The use of plastics in 3-D printing has exploded in recent years. In this type of additive processing, material is deposited in layers thermally, with UV light, with lasers or other means of curing the base polymer through the use of three dimensional CAD files. It has allowed OEM’s, aerospace and medical manufacturers to produce prototypes very inexpensively when compared to tradition fabrication. The resulting parts can be made into finished parts by deflashing with tumbling media through one or more plastic finishing techniques.
ISO Finishing has worked with OEM’s serving the cosmetic industry to injection molding companies serving the dental industry. We’ve cataloged isotropic finishing processes using select tumbling media to match the perfect plastic polishing program for your specific product or application. Send us your waterjet, machined, or injection molded parts and we’ll show you how our vibratory deburring and centrifugal polishing can give you and your customers the best product possible. Our plastic finishing services are unmatched – call today.