Acrylic extrusions are acrylic materials shaped by plastic extruders into usable products. Acrylic material is derived from acrylic acid, a byproduct of ethylene and gasoline production. Like many other petrochemical derivatives, acrylic acid can be processed into raw thermoplastic stock. Thermoplastics are plastic materials that can be formed into a wide variety of useful plastic products when heated and pressurized.
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Plastic Extrusion Process
The plastic extrusion process is the same for every plastic material, at least on a conceptual level. The operational temperatures and production volume may vary from material to material, but the basic principle of plastic extrusion applies to all plastic varieties. The plastic extrusion process begins with a hopper full of raw plastic stock suspended over a conveyance channel. In the channel is a long shearing screw, which forces the plastic down the channel once it is released from the hopper. The friction caused by turning the screw heats the plastic stock to its melting point. Many plastic extruders also feature heating elements to supplement the heat caused by friction. At the end of the channel is a die. A die is a tool used to shape raw materials into usable products. In the case of plastic extrusion, a die is a specially-shaped profile cut out of a plate positioned at the end of a conveyance channel. Once the plastic becomes molten and reaches the die, it is forced through the die, taking the die’s shape as it passes through. When the plastic emerges on the other side of the die, it is extruded. It is then cooled, cut, and sent for shipping or additional processing.
Applications of Acrylic Extrusions
Acrylic plastics are characterized by their optical clarity and durability. They can be processed into any shape and can be relied on for their qualities of durability and lightness. Because acrylic plastics are clear, they are very useful in applications that call for a durable but transparent barrier between objects. Acrylic extruded plastic sheets can be used as window panes; some aquariums use acrylic panes for viewing panels. Acrylic extruded tubing is invaluable in chemical processing and healthcare settings. In operations that require the careful monitoring of materials as they are transmitted through plastic tubing, acrylic tubes allow professionals to clearly see the tubing contents without worrying about cracking or impact damage. Acrylic plastics are durable and flexible, which decreases the risk of contamination from tube breakage and any subsequent injury or product damage.