Plastics extrusion is a high volume manufacturing process in which raw plastic material is melted and formed into a continuous profile. Extrusion produces items such as pipe/tubing, weather stripping, fence, deck railing, window frames, adhesive tape and wire insulation.
Compounding extrusion is a process that mixes one or more polymers with additives to give plastic compounds. The feeds may be pellets, powder and/or liquids, but the product is usually in pellet form, to be used in other plastic-forming processes such as extrusion and injection molding. Machine size varies from tiny lab machines to the biggest extruders in the industry, running as much as 20 tons per hour, as used by the chemical companies that make the base resins. Usually twin-screw extruders are preferred because they give better mixing at lower melt temperatures. Most of these have screws and barrels made up of smaller segments (mixing, conveying, venting and additive feeding) so that the design can be changed to meet the production and product needs. Single-screw extruders can be used for compounding as well, especially with appropriate screw design and static mixers after the screw. Selection of the components to be mixed (viscosities, additive carriers) is as important as the equipment.