How Does the Plastics Industry Use Nitrogen?
November 18, 2020
Plastic is everywhere in our everyday lives; you can’t really get away from it. As one of the largest manufacturing industries in the world, it’s interesting to think about how they operate and what kind of machinery they use to produce this popular, versatile material.
The fact is that nitrogen is actually one of the key elements used in manufacturing plastic. Here’s why and how the industry employs nitrogen generation.
Why Does the Plastics Industry Use Nitrogen?
Nitrogen gas is renowned for being inert and dry which is incredibly important in the plastics industry. Nitrogen helps maintain the polymer’s integrity and strength during manufacturing processes due to these characteristics. As well as this, nitrogen also prevents oxidation that may occur during operation which commonly leads to discolouration.
Uses of Nitrogen in the Plastics Industry
Tank blanketing is where molten plastic is housed in a tank before being sent to the moulding process. This tank is blanketed with nitrogen in order to ensure that the polymer does not come in to contact with oxygen. As mentioned above, this eliminates the risk of discolouration whilst improving performance.
Plastic extrusion, also known as film extrusion, describes the process of creating plastic pipes and tubing. It involves pressing a molten thermoplastic through a die which ultimately produces a continuous tube-like shape; it is then inflated forming a thin tubular film. Nitrogen is used to prevent any residue formation and protect both the equipment and product from any harm.
A process used on a number of different materials, including plastic, injection moulding refers to the process of injecting molten material into a mould. Nitrogen eliminates any complications to the end product which moisture and oxygen can cause, such as defects and blemishes.
Gas Assist Injection Moulding (GAIM)
Similar to injection moulding, GAIM is used to produce larger, thicker plastic parts. The mould is partially filled with the molten material, then high-pressure nitrogen is injected into it. This is so once the polymer expands, it doesn’t breakdown or shrink during cooling. Nitrogen pressure is maintained throughout the entire cooling process, creating a dense, strong plastic.
Nitrogen Generation for the Plastics Industry
As you can see, nitrogen generation is essential to ensure the final plastic product is of high quality and high performance.
At Air Power East, we provide a wide range of nitrogen generators plus additional services such as servicing and installation. If you have any questions and require more information, please contact us today and see how we can help you.