Duratex Polystyrene: How It's Made
Recently, Grimco became the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of Duratex Polystyrene. Our goal is to ensure we have the capabilities to provide you with polystyrene for whatever project you may need! Whether you need a traditional polystyrene cut or custom colors and sizes - our manufacturing facility can do it.
How do we make this possible you say?! Well, we are lucky to acknowledge our polystyrene offering is made possible with the strategic work of our manufacturing team. Read more to see what our manufacturing manager, Gareth Clarke, has to say about how we make the best possible polystyrene product!
Production all starts with the raw materials, and in the case of High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) plastic sheet, there are three primary categories: Resin, Color Concentrate, and Performance Additive.Resin
- Primary raw material.
- Resins are sourced from the best domestic and international sources for consistent sheet performance.
- Grimco houses over a dozen silos for our primary resins, as well as ample warehouse space.
- Can be color matched for various applications.
- Can be physically modified for performance with various additives.
- Additional specialty resins carried in house for custom sheets.
- Gives the resin the desired color.
- Made from premium dyes and pigments for a consistent appearance.
- For white styrene sheets, the majority of this is Titanium Dioxide or TiO2.
- For black styrene sheets, Carbon Black is the primary contributor to the appearance.
- Custom matched colors may contain anywhere from 2 to 6 (or more) dyes and/or pigments (including TiO2 and Carbon Black) in order to get the color just right.
- Precision matching in house by our color lab, for perfect print every time.
Performance Additives (aka “Adders”)
- Items that help improve performance in various applications and more demanding environments.
- Available upon request for improved thermoforming, die cutting, static control, thermal stability, and UV resistance.
To make the sheeting, Resin is first transferred from the Silos or boxes in storage to dryers. This process removes any excess moisture prior to mixing with any additives and color concentrate. It also helps prevent any undesired visual defects from the moisture in your finished sheet, and also preheats the resin so that it can melt faster when it gets to the extruder.
The resin is then fed through computer controlled blenders that meter and mix the components for the sheet in the correct ratios for your desired color. Between the resins, additives, and color concentrate, you could have four or more different components going into each extruder, and up to three extruders on a single sheet extrusion line. This allows us to create special sheets to suit our customer needs, including materials that have different colored layers.
Each Extruder is similar to the image below. The motor turns a long screw that propels the mix from the hopper down the heated barrel, compresses it, then meters it out the end through a spool where it gets combined with the other extruder outputs and sent through the heated die. The die spreads the plastic out to an oversized/unfinished width and controls the thickness of the sheet. We have different dies for our lines that help us make sheets at different widths and thicknesses. We can produce up to 63" wide for common thicknesses and we can produce heavy gauge sheets up to 0.250” thick.
Images from: Melt Extrusion - An Overview | ScienceDirect Topics
After the plastic leaves the extruder, it passes through a roll stand that ensures even thickness and controls the final cooling of the sheet. It then proceeds through a treatment station where it can be treated on one or both sides for the appropriate Dyne level for your printing needs. And finally, the material passes through a sheeter that cuts the final length and width for each sheet, and stacks them on a pallet for shipment right to you!
There you have it - that's how our Duratex Polystyrene is made!
All 60+ distribution facilities across the U.S. are stocked regionally and ready to support your everyday polystyrene needs! We offer local delivery of standard white and dead white products. Need something custom? Our Rigid Substrates Team is standing by to quote your customer opportunities right when you need it!
Contact Boards@grimco.com for any custom quotes!