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The Many Uses of Injected Foams and Plastic

Many materials are used to construct buildings, appliances, cars, tools, and more today. Many of these materials have been in use since antiquity, such as metal like copper or tin or steel, wood of all sorts, and glass and rubber. Meanwhile, a more recent material is plastic, which comes in a wide variety of types for different jobs. Plastic is not truly universal, but it is easy to manufacture and can be used for many different applications due to its tough body and light weight. Many applications that don’t involve extremes of pressure or heat may use plastic, and today’s plastic and polyurethane goods are made in injection molded enclosures. These injection molded enclosures use injection molding processes to create finished goods, and the molding process ensures that all products are the right size and shape. The polyurethane injection molding process is a large part of today’s plastic production, and injection molded enclosures may be found in factories around the world (and certainly many in the United States). What is there to know about these injection molded enclosures and plastic goods overall?

Making Some Plastic

This process is a fairly simple one, and is quite effective at mass-producing plastic and polyurethane goods of the exact right dimensions and type. Reaction injection molding, or RIM, is a process where molded polyurethane parts are made. In particular, two different liquid components are mixed together during manufacture, and then that compound will be injected into the mold and allowed to react and cure, hence the name. These injection molded enclosures can create RIM parts with walls about one eighth of an inch thick, but some plastic goods made in these injection molded enclosures may be as thick as 0.5 inches if needed. Meanwhile, the machine applies great pressure so that the liquid components can be blended with impingement, often with pressures between 1,500 and 3,000 psi or so. Foamed RIM materials are known for having distinctive microcellular systems in their material, with cells typically being as small as 0.001 inches across. Overall, this process is used everywhere to make everything from car parts to cases for electronic goods. In 2015, for a recent example, American plastic production amounted to an impressive 34.5 million tons of material. The industry for containers and packaging has the most need for plastic, using 14 million tons of it in 2015.

Using and Recycling Plastic

Why is plastic used? This material has not totally replaced older construction materials, but it has become standard for many different items in both commercial and everyday use. Plastic is lighter than glass and does not shatter or crack as easily, and is much lighter than metal. Plastic is also easier to mold into shape than wood, and replacing some wooden items with wood pulp or plastic also helps relieve pressure on forests. Plastic has its limits, as it cannot function like glass for a window and plastic suffers in extremes of heat or pressure. Some items such as car bodies or house walls will continue to be made of metal or wood, even if plastic is commonplace.

As mentioned above, plastic is used for many different items, but containers and bottles are especially common uses for plastics. Plastic is light, leak-proof, and can be molded into nearly shape, making it very useful for bottles, jugs, airtight boxes, and more. A person may see many plastic water bottles at a grocery store, for example, and these bottles are tough and leak-proof but lightweight and don’t shatter easily like a glass bottle. Such plastic bottles are a fine choice for sporting events or for natural disaster relief efforts. Liquids such as car oil or window wiper fluid may be contained in plastic bottles, along with household cleaners. Many brands today make food leftovers containers out of plastic, which are leak-proof and airtight.

Plastic can and often is recycled, too, since old plastic goods can be melted down and made into something new. Doing this is resource-efficient and helps reduce plastic pollution in the natural environment. Plastic can be recycled into plastic timbers, which are like wooden timbers for making benches or landscaping projects in a park or someone’s backyard. Unlike wood timbers, plastic timbers don’t suffer from water exposure and aren’t vandalized as easily.

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