Founded in 1997 as a rigid film supplier, Integrated Packaging Films, Inc. (IPF) has since expanded operations to include plastic extrusion services. Equipped with over 20 years of industry experience and three complete extrusion lines, we can produce custom plastic extrusions for customers in the automotive, cosmetic, food, pharmaceutical, printing, and other consumer markets. Our team has the knowledge and skills to accommodate virtually any extruded plastic packaging project, regardless of the specificity or uniqueness of the customer’s needs.
What Is Plastic Extrusion?
Plastic extrusion is a manufacturing process that forms parts and products with fixed cross-sections from solid, pelletized, or powdered thermoplastic or thermoset material. It involves heating or melting the material and then pushing it through an extrusion die (i.e., a specialized die containing one or more openings in the shape of the desired profile). As the material progresses through the die, it maintains the shape of the die opening throughout its length.
A typical extrusion proceeds as follows:
- A hopper continuously feeds plastic material into the extruder’s heating barrel.
- The heating barrel—which contains a screw conveyor mechanism—heats and melts the material as it moves through to the extrusion die.
- The melted plastic exits the heating barrel through the extrusion die in metered amounts, forcing it to take on the die profile.
- A roll stand polishes the extruded profile to thickness.
- The extruded sheet is metered through a series of cooling rolls and wound onto a cardboard core.
- The finished roll is either wrapped and packaged for shipping or prepared for coating/slitting as necessary.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Plastic Extrusion
The plastic extrusion process offers a number of manufacturing advantages, such as:
- Greater design flexibility. The process accommodates a wide range of die profiles, allowing manufacturers to create parts and products with a variety of simple to highly complex continuous cross-sections.
- Easier post–production operations. The extruded roll stock is ready for thermoforming, with no curing time required.
- Lower production costs. As the extrusion process often uses thermoplastics—which can undergo the melting, molding, and hardening operations repeatedly—the overall material and disposal costs for an extrusion operation is lower than that of other molding processes.
However, it also has some disadvantages, including regarding the following:
- Material. Materials can only be extruded to a maximum of .060” thick.
Common Polymers Used in Extrusion Operations
As indicated above, the extrusion process is suitable for both thermoplastics and thermosets. Some of the plastic materials most often used in extrusion operations include:
- PET. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)—also referred to as polyester—is a naturally colorless and lightweight thermoplastic material. It demonstrates flexibility, resistance to alcohol and other solvents, and moisture barrier properties. Typical extruded parts include single-use food and beverage containers.
- APET. Amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (APET) is a PET variation that has a less rigid polymer structure. It is similarly colorless and lightweight but is more flexible. It is often used to produce single-serving water, juice, and soft drink containers.
- RPET. As suggested by the name, recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) is recycled PET. It serves as an eco-friendly material option for food and beverage containers.
- PETG. Polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) is a PET variation with glycol. It offers exceptional durability and manufacturability, making it ideal for the production of high-use industrial, commercial, and consumer packaging products.
- HIPS. High impact polystyrene (HIPS) is a low-cost plastic found in a wide range of products, such as electronics and food packaging. It exhibits excellent workability, recyclability, and moisture barrier properties.
- PVC. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a thermoplastic that demonstrates excellent optical clarity and material density. It is available in both flexible and rigid variations, both of which are widely used to produce plastic components.
- PP. Polypropylene (PP) is another commonly used thermoplastic. It is highly durable and flexible, making it ideal for a variety of product packaging.
Custom Plastic Extrusion Capabilities at IPF
At IPF, we offer custom extrusion services for rigid thermoformable films and sheets, with a specialization in modified materials and specialty coatings. We accommodate a variety of film and sheet materials (i.e., APET, RPET, PETG, PP, and customer-specified plastics) in thicknesses ranging from 0.010 inches to 0.050 inches. In addition to extruding plastic materials, we can cut them to size and semi-finish them to facilitate future processing operations.
All of our extrusions can demonstrate resistance to acid, alcohol, grease, hydrocarbons, and fats. Additionally, depending on the needs of the customer, we can tailor our operations to comply with various industry and regulatory standards (e.g., FDA, medical, or MIL-spec).
Our customer base for our plastic extrusion services comes from a wide range of industries, including the following:
- Electronics packaging. Proper packaging is essential for the protection of sensitive electronic components against environmental conditions, such as EMI, heat, and moisture. We offer a variety of electronic packaging films, including antistatic, conductive, electrostatic dissipative (ESD), and insulative films.
- Food packaging. Food packaging serves as a method of containing and distributing food. We offer a broad selection of FDA and CFIA compliant sealing films and packaging for bakery, deli, produce, and other food products.
- Medical/pharmaceutical packaging. In the medical and pharmaceutical industries, packaging materials are subject to strict standards to ensure the safety of the equipment contained. We supply industry-certified packaging materials for sensitive pharmaceutical and medical devices and components, such as catheters and syringes.
- Retail packaging. For high-exposure retail applications, we offer 100% recycled utility packaging materials.
- Face Shield Materials. Clear PET disposable and reusable Face Shields. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been able to create disposable and reusable face shields out of clear PET.
Our Value-Added Services
In addition to our plastic extrusion capabilities, we offer several value-added services, including:
- Coating. We can add standard or custom coating formulations to plastic films and sheets to improve their functional and/or aesthetic characteristics.
- Precision slitting. We cut long or wide rolls of plastic film or sheeting into smaller sizes to facilitate processing, transport, and storage applications.
- Sheet finishing: We semi-finish plastic sheets and films to improve performance in future processing operations and, once fully manufactured, in the end application.
Plastic Extrusion Solutions With Integrated Packaging Films, Inc.
At Integrated Packaging Films, we have extensive experience producing high-quality custom plastic extrusions for a wide range of industries. This quality, combined with our broad range of extrusion capabilities, superior packaging materials, excellent customer service, and fast turnaround, makes us the ideal partner for any extruded plastic packaging project.
To experience the IPF difference, request a quote today.