Plastic fabrication refers to the designing, manufacturing, or assembly of products made from plastic or composites with plastic. It is possible to fabricate plastic goods in a wide variety of ways, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The fabrication of small plastic kitchen containers will likely not use the same method as the fabrication of large roofs and body panels for heavy vehicles.
There are many different types of plastic fabrication methods, depending on the techniques used and the characteristics of the resulting products. Some of the most common categories include:
Any method that allows plastics to harden within a mold in order to be formed into a shape is referred to as molding. This plastic fabrication technique is one of the most versatile, allowing developers to make parts of all sizes and shapes. A variety of products can be made with molds, ranging from household appliances to heavy machinery, toys to airplane parts. Due to the time- and cost-efficiency of the process and the strength, durability, and stiffness of the finished parts, it has become one of the most popular methods for fabricating plastics.
Traditionally, molding is divided into several subtypes based on:
- Whether there is a presence of heat, pressure, or a combination of both.
- How the plastic enters the mold.
- If reinforcing fibers such as glass, carbon, or aramid (Kevlar) are present.