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What Happens in a Plastic Factory?

Plastic pellets, which are melted down to make other products.
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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 01 July 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A plastic factory is a place where plastic products are made from chemicals and raw ingredients. Through processes known as injection molding, polymerizing and other methods, a plastic factory creates plastic products ranging from toothbrush bristles to soda pop bottles and plastic grocery bags. Heat is a main ingredient in most types of plastic production, thus a plastic factory is typically a very warm place to work. The plastic used to create new products is often made up of recycled plastic components, so many plastic factories are making a green contribution to the local economy and environment.

Plastics are used to create products used in many aspects and components of human life, from baby diapers and home furnishings to automobile components. A plastic factory typically uses small plastic beads that have been created from crude oil that has been refined to produce polymers. The plastic factory buys the polymers in the form of resins and adds introduces other chemicals and ingredients to create a specific type of plastic or a plastic blend. This mixture of resins and chemicals is used to create specific plastic components and parts to be marketed to the consumer or another factory.

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Polyethylene is a type of plastic that is made by polymerizing many ethylene monomers with a catalyst. A catalyst is a chemical that aids the chemical reaction of the monomers without changing itself. The result is a mass of polymers that is known as resin. The resin can be powder, pellets or tiny granules that are bought by the plastic factory and used to create finished plastic products, from toy cars and plastic toilet seats to one of the most common products, plastic garbage bags. The resin is often mixed with coloring agents to produce a wide array of colored plastic products.

There are two distinct types of plastics produced by most plastic factories: thermoplastics and thermosets. A thermoplastic is a plastic that maintains its plastic properties, meaning that the plastic will melt when heated and harden when cooled; thermosets, on the other hand, do not maintain a plastic property when heated. A thermoset is a plastic that remains permanently set when hardened. If a thermoset plastic is exposed to a hot enough temperature, the plastic will become charred or perhaps even crack instead of melting. This thermoset type of plastic is the type used in many plastic factory plants that produce plastic automobile or housing components.

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