Cost Comparisons For Plastics Manufacturing

The plastic manufacturing industry is very diversified, and consumers have options both in terms of the products they want and the process they use to create them. Below are explanations for three of the most common techniques, as well as how each compares in cost. Keep in mind that costs vary by project and that some products require a combination of techniques.

Plastic Injection Molding

What it is: Also knows as molding injection, this method is one of the most common ways to make plastic parts and components. The process involves injecting plastic into a mold to create an inverse form. The process can be used for a wide range of products.

How does the cost compare: In general, this process is comparatively complex, as it requires a specific mold to be made. For that reason, it can cost more.

Thermoforming

What it is: Another way to manufacture plastic items is through extrusion and thermoforming. It requires a few more steps than plastic injection. Extrusion involves processing plastic powder or pellets and typically is used to manufacture plastic sheets, as opposed to more intricate components. The next step is thermoforming, during which the finished plastic sheets are heated in ovens so that they are once again soft and malleable. Those sheets can then be pressed against a mold by either air pressure or a vacuum so that they can take the shape of the final components being made.

How does the cost compare: By its nature, this type of plastic manufacturing is simpler than the one described above and is generally less expensive.

Blow Molding

What it is: Blow molding is a type of manufacturing that isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive from the others, although it involves an extra step that allows the plastic component to have a hollowed out space in the middle. Using one of the techniques above — most often molding injection, as described — a still-hot component is moved to another tool that blows gas into the center to stretch it into a new mold. It is commonly used for bottles and other similar plastic items.

How does the cost compare: On its own, blow molding is less expensive; however, you must consider that blow molding is often part of a larger process, in which case expenses can ultimately be higher.