Manufacturing plastics allows companies to craft materials for almost every industry. Creating and casting polymer materials is used for everything from packaging to aeronautics.
Along with the dynamic use of plastics, there are a variety of ways to manufacture it. Some of the most common include:
Regardless of which method is used, they all have one constant. Heat is an essential part of the process. The plastics industry relies on industrial heaters to mold, melt, mix, and prep plastics. Without an adequate heating solution, no polymer manufacturing process is complete.
Electric heaters are becoming increasingly popular in the plastics industry. They provide rapid heating and precision accuracy, reducing lead time and increasing efficiency. In shaping and forming processes manufacturers use electric tubular heaters, band heaters, cartridge heaters and strip heaters.
For lubricant oils, low gas flow heating, and heating waxes or corrosive liquids we use flanged or screw plug heaters.
Tubular heating elements are immensely versatile. Wattco’s custom-configuration allows the elements to be built to any shape or size. As well as providing custom bending diameters, watt densities, and material selection.
Electric tubular heating elements offer form-fitting direct heating functionality for maximum efficiency in heat transfer.
Band heaters provide high watt densities and high operating temperatures for the plastics industry. They are commonly used in injection molding and extrusion molding. Band heaters are generally for heating cylindrical surfaces.
These heaters come in a variety of nozzle sizes and with a variety of clamping mechanisms, including:
It’s a very energy efficient heater type that is highly flexible and provides uniform heat distribution.
In the plastics industry, cartridge heaters are a good solution for injection molding, blow, and extrusion molding. They are capable of achieving and withstanding high heat (up to 1500℉), as well as resisting vibration.
The cartridge heaters are inserted into molds to heat large surface areas. Aluminum and stee l molds are common for this, as they are inexpensive and provide rapid heat distribution.
Cartridge heaters are capable of high-precision. They are commonly used to seal plastic bags. Accurate heating is necessary for this as the temperature must be high enough to seal the bag, but not high enough to melt the plastic.
Strip heaters, or component heaters, are an efficient and inexpensive way to distribute heat. They are simple in design and operation, making them reliable. They are effective for heating small areas at a low-costs. Although at up to 500℉ they can’t reach as high temperatures as cartridge heaters.
In the plastics industry, electric strip heaters are often used for shaping and bending plastics.
The material needs of heaters in the plastics industry vary greatly depending on the application. Wattco process heaters are available in a variety of sheath materials to best suit your needs.
Steel and aluminum are popular in the plastics industry, especially in molding. This is due to their lower price point and efficient heat distribution. However, they are not suitable for all materials. For handling more corrosive materials, stainless steel, Inconel, and Hastelloy are popular solutions.
As well, in corrosive environments, such as immersion in saltwater, titanium alloys can provide further protection.
Ceramic is another common material in heating plastics. It can protect the heater or provide shock protection at the post terminals.
The plastics industry relies on accurate heating times, temperatures, and distribution. To this end, the heaters must be outfitted with a high-quality digital control panel. The panels act as the brains of the heater.
Controllers measure the temperatures and output, automatically making adjustments for optimal performance. As well, they prevent issues like overheating and disintegration of the target medium.
They are suitable for any environment, available in all NEMA ratings, ranging from moisture-resistant to explosion-proof. For further accuracy, they are often paired with thermocouples.
Wattco Band heaters apply a form of indirect heating. Usually employed where gradual heating is required, they can be calibrated to deliver heat at very low rates.
Wattco Tubular heaters can be customized for nearly every scenario. They use a strong outer sheath to withstand physical stress and high-quality alloys for efficient heat transfer.
Strip heaters rely on surface area to transfer heat and are an excellent way to meet your heating needs on any budget. In the plastics industry, they are commonly used to soften polymers for molding.
A form of immersion heater that is ideal for smaller containers screw plug heaters are commonly used to rapidly heat non-corrosive liquids and gasses, although the material that the heater is constructed with can be adapted for corrosive liquids and gasses as well.
One of the most widely used heaters in the oil and plastics sector. Flanged heaters use durable alloys such as steel, stainless, titanium and Hastelloy for a wide of temperature ranges. Temperature controls and digital controllers make this product an optimum choice for the oil and gas industries.
Cartridge heaters are primarily used to heat solids by being placed in a mold. They can reach and maintain temperatures of up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit.