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The Ins and Outs of Plastic Prototyping

So, you’re ready to take a brilliant design to the market, and it’s become clear that this genius widget should be made from plastic. Even if you plan to enlist the assistance of a plastic prototyping service, it helps if you know how plastic is made in the first place.

Plastic Prototyping

Source: American Machinist

It starts with raw materials

Experienced chemists and engineers will take a look at your product, the demands placed on the component, and then determine what type of plastic should be used, how hard or flexible it should be and what type of environmental factors will affect its performance.

  1. At this point they can select the right plastic like ethylene or propylene. These types of plastic contain hydrocarbons obtained from refining oil. This is chemically processed to form carbon monomers.
  2. Monomers lead to polymerization to produce polymer resins. The resins are then collected and processed further by adding plasticizers, dyes or other chemicals to help meet the need of the part’s technical specifications.
  3. The final resins are usually collected in the form of pellets or beads.
  4. Those polymer resins are then heated, molded into the desired shape and cooled to become the finished part.

Depending on the plastic prototyping service, several processes can be used for this final step, including extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, rotational molding and CNC machining.

CNC machining is a great time- and money-saving option for plastic prototyping and can also be a great alternative for timely processes, including injection molding and blow molding. The aforementioned processes mentioned generally require expensive tooling, which also creates a longer lead time.

With any new product or design, you want expert guidance and great capability. Product Development Solutions can provide both, as well as a fast quote on your next project. Contact us, and let’s get started.

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