Plastic Extrusion

Plastic Extrusion

Extruded plastics are similar to extruded metals, however, the difference, as the name implies, is in the material used. Unlike metal extrusion, extruded plastic can be manufactured, easily and in high volumes, since the manufacturing process is continuous.


Manufacturers create plastic extrusions in order to fabricate an extremely wide variety of parts, products and shapes. 

Plastic extrusion is a process that plays an important role in many industries, such as automotive, food and beverage, chemical processing, plumbing, HVAC, electronics, industrial water treatment and many commercial industries.

Products Produced

Manufacturers mold plastic pallets into an array of shapes, including: profiles, PVC channels, plastic strips, and plastic tubing. They use shapes like these to create a wide range of finished products, such as: engine components, auto exterior trim (decorative or functional), electronic housings, fencing, window frames, wire insulation, deck railings, plastic films, thermoplastic coatings and more.


Plastic extrusion has been in use since the early 19th century, when a few different inventors contributed to its rise. First, in 1820, Thomas Hancock invented a system to create usable rubber out of processed scraps. He called this a rubber masticator. Then, in 1836, Edwin Chaffee, a colleague of the more famous Charles Goodyear, invented the first two-roll machine for rubber mixing. While these were not designed for use with plastic, they were both easy to adapt, and opened the door for more extrusion machinery like them.

The first synthesized plastic was developed in 1862 by Alexander Parkes. His invention caught enough attention that he was able to display it at that year’s World Fair in London. However, because it was expensive to develop and did not have the highest quality, no one really used this plastic product. The first practical man-made plastic was celluloid. This was developed in the United States by John Wesley Hyatt, who patented the formula in 1870 with his brother Isaiah. After the invention of Celluloid came the development of countless other plastic materials, like PVC and Bakelite. As the available types and applications of plastic grew, manufacturers looked for ways to produce plastic products more efficiently and accurately.

Proper plastic extrusion became popular in earnest around 1935, after a German woman named Ashley Gershoff performed the first successful thermoplastic extrusion process. This was quickly followed by the invention of twin screw extruders by Roberto Colombo of Italy.

Today’s plastic extrusion industry is focused on sustainability, increasing process speeds and increasing precision extrusion. Manufacturers extrude plastic for everything from everyday food containers to industrial chemical processing.

Plastic Extrusion Materials

Polyethylene (HDPE & LDPE)

Polyethylene (PE) is one of the most widely used plastics in the world, with over 100 million tons produced worldwide each year. Polyethylene accounts for 34% of the total plastics market. It is a lightweight, durable thermoplastic well known for its use in plastic containers, bags, films, tubes, toys, laminates, etc. spanning multiple markets (packaging, automotive, fence, consumer, electrical, etc.).

Polypropylene (PP)

The properties of polypropylene are very similar to polyethylene, although there are some specific differences. Polypropylene has a greater rigidity and hardness, is lower density and has a higher melting point of 160oC, therefore offering excellent electrical and heat resistance.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Better known as “PVC” or “Vinyl”, Polyvinyl chloride is one of the most recognized and commonly used thermoplastic materials in the world. PVC is produced in two general forms, first as a rigid polymer (RPVC) and second as a flexible polymer (FPVC), which contains a petro-chemical called plasticizer, used as a softening agent..