Thermoplastic resins are a type of plastic material known for their ability to soften and liquify in high heat and harden when cooled. Thermoplastic materials are most often used in plastic injection molding and provide versatility in product manufacturing for many industries. Thermoplastics can be recycled by heating again and reusing in manufacturing, depending on part specifications.
When injection molding products with a standard tool, the runner (also called the sprue) can often be ground up and re-used according to allowances for regrind material. A hot-runner tool will, of course, not produce a sprue, thus saving on producing regrind material. In addition to the ability to re-use regrind material, thermoplastics offer many advantages over other types of resins, such as thermoset plastics, which harden to a solid and permanent state without the ability to reheat and liquify.
Types of Thermoplastic Resins
There are many types of thermoplastic resins, again touting the versatility of the products and industries served by injection molding with thermoplastics. Some types of thermoplastics produce a rubber-like material or feel as strong as aluminum, depending on the chemical properties. Some materials may withstand extreme heat temperatures while others become viscous in lower heat ranges.
Thermoplastics may be considered commodity resins, engineering resins or specialty resins. Examples include:
- Commodity Resins
- Many others
- Engineering Resins
- Many others
- Specialty Resins
- Many others
There are many types of thermoplastics with various properties and material specifications, making them quite versatile to produce parts for consumer goods and high-precision products. You can find injection molded thermoplastic parts in a multitude of industries, such as automotive, aerospace/aviation, medical, fiber optics, defense and many others.
Benefits of Thermoplastic Resins
The ability to reheat and liquify thermoplastics is a benefit of this versatile type of material, along with many other advantages, such as:
- Recyclable and reusable – Even if a molder cannot reuse regrind material in specific jobs, regrind thermoplastics have value and can be sold or valued as inventory.
- Versatile to suit many product needs – Thermoplastics can be used to manufacture rubber-like products or hard, durable plastic with high strength and resistance to corrosion. Thermoplastics can come in many different colors and some have the ability to add colorant to create custom colors for various products.
- Insert molding options – This type of material may also be molded with a metal insert for even more flexibility in manufacturing. This is called insert molding or over-molding and is also an injection molding process.
- Chemical resistant properties – Some thermoplastics are resistant to chemical exposure and may be surface treated to allow for easy printing or coating applications.
- Strength and flexibility – Thermoplastics are extremely strong, making them a good choice for parts with thin walls and complex geometries. The molecular qualities of thermoplastics make them an ideal choice for applications requiring strength and high-stress resistance.
- Prototyping or mass production – This type of material is versatile and cost-efficient for mass production and prototyping needs.
An experienced injection molder will not see many disadvantages with thermoplastics as long as the right resin is chosen for the job. Some materials will degrade in high exposure to UV light or have poor resistance to organic solvents. Some materials will shrink upon setting, although this is taken into consideration during the mold design phase to produce parts to specification.
QT Manufacturing Experienced Thermoplastic Molder
QT Manufacturing understands the advantages and challenges in working with all types of thermoplastics, offering skilled mold design, injection molding and part production options. We provide prototyping and high-volume production from skilled mold designers and injection molding techs, all under one roof. We offer CNC precision machining to be your one-stop, domestic parts manufacturer.
QT Manufacturing offers turnkey solutions as a valuable supplier to many industries that demand high quality and service. We follow a strict quality policy as part of our ISO9001:2015 and AS9100 rev D certifications and ITAR compliance. Contact us to learn how we can add value to your supply chain with high quality, on-time delivery, and exceptional customer service for all your thermoplastics injection molding needs – 972-221-0537.