At Adams Plastics, we distribute and convert high-quality plastic materials, including PVC and other vinyl films, imitation leather, and laminates. The versatility and affordability of these plastic materials make them a popular manufacturing choice for everything from window frames to medical devices. By incorporating additives, colorants, and other property-enhancing agents, various functional and aesthetic properties of the materials—such as toughness, softness, flexibility, and strength—can be manipulated to suit a wide range of applications.
The following page explores the different types of plastics available and examples of common applications. Additionally, it describes the various manufacturing processes used to fulfill standard and custom orders.
Types of Plastic Materials
The type of plastic used to manufacture a particular product significantly affects its performance, durability, and safety. When choosing among the options available for a specific application, understanding the unique properties, benefits, and limitations associated with each type of plastic is important. Below we discuss a few of the most popular plastic materials and their various uses.
PVC Film/Vinyl Film
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—more commonly known as vinyl—is a synthetic polymer produced by combining ethylene—a hydrocarbon feedstock—with chlorine. In addition to being highly amenable to processing, this plastic material is affordable, durable, and resistant to chemicals, oil, and grease. Much of its popularity comes from the fact that it can be manipulated in a variety of ways depending on application-specific requirements.
Common forms of vinyl include:
- Clear vinyl: Clear vinyl is used for indoor and outdoor applications requiring a transparent and durable material, such as storm windows, automotive components, covers, and various types of sheeting.
- Tinted vinyl: Vinyl can be tinted for applications requiring some degree of shading or color. Typical applications include vehicle wraps, decorative trim, stationery, and packaging.
- Flexible vinyl: Flexible vinyl is produced through the addition of an organic substance called a plasticizer, which increases the material’s flexibility and processability. It is commonly used in flooring, rainwear, medical tubing, and garden hoses.
- Rigid vinyl: Rigid vinyl has a higher degree of hardness, stiffness, and dimensional stability than flexible vinyl. This rigidness makes it a suitable material for the manufacture of pipes, door and window components, and siding.
- Soft vinyl: Plasticizers can be added to vinyl to achieve a soft, pliable form suitable for use as waterproof marine upholstery, stickers and decals, and fabric.
- Antistatic PVC: Adding antistatic agents to PVC reduces the risk of static buildup and dust accumulation. These qualities are necessary for applications such as electronic components, automotive plastics, and packaging.
Imitation leather is a plastic that is produced and finished to resemble the look of leather. This durable yet inexpensive synthetic material is used as a substitute for applications where real leather is unwanted, unsuitable, or too expensive. A few common uses of imitation leather include clothing, shoes, furniture and automotive upholstery, and pool and billiard covers.
Laminated plastics are polymer-matrix composites that are produced by bonding together two or more layers of material. Vinyl laminates are created by adding backing to a thin piece of PVC plastic film. The high-strength characteristic of composites makes them ideal for spare tire covers, menu cover edging, vinyl tablecloths, motorcycle seating, and other applications requiring materials that are durable, impact-resistant, and easy to clean.
The Endless Possibilities of Plastic Materials
As mentioned previously, plastics are easy to reinforce, soften, and otherwise manipulate to serve specific purposes. This versatile nature makes them an effective yet affordable material choice for an endless number of applications, including:
- Pockets: Adhesive-backed clear vinyl pockets for storing or displaying photographs, files, and other documents can be made in a variety of sizes and thicknesses.
- Document wallets: Clear vinyl can be used to create transparent document wallets for storing, protecting, and transporting important files.
- Stadium cushions: Stadium cushion covers can be produced from soft, flexible PVC in a range of colors to serve as comfortable yet durable seating.
- Medical drainage bags: Drainage collection bags for medical purposes can be created from flexible clear PVC in various shapes and volume capacities.
- Cosmetic cases: Imitation leather and soft vinyl are customizable and easy-to-clean material options for creating cosmetic storage cases in various sizes and styles.
- Folding chair seating: The seat cover material of folding chairs is often made from vinyl to provide an easy-to-clean, durable, and weather-resistant seating surface.
- Barstool seating: Imitation leather is a stylish, affordable, and easy-to-maintain upholstery option for barstools.
- Clear totes and bags: Clear and flexible PVC is ideal for the manufacture of clear totes, pouches, and bags.
- Clear enclosures: The resilient and water-resistant nature of clear vinyl makes for high-quality transparent enclosures for patios, sunrooms, golf carts, and more.
- Pool covers: Due to its durability and resistance to moisture, vinyl is often used in the manufacture of pool covers.
- Gym wall padding: Soft vinyl-covered wall padding provides a durable, easy-to-clean, and impact-resistant cushioned surface for gyms and sports facilities.
- Gym floor covers: Vinyl is used to produce durable gym floor covers of various thicknesses to provide floor protection when needed.
- Trampoline padding: Soft, flexible vinyl is the perfect material for trampoline padding as it retains its structural integrity even after multiple impacts.
- Industrial curtains: Industrial PVC curtains make great protective closures or barriers for paint booths, data centers, and airline luggage carts.
- Lift table skirts: Due to its resilient nature and tolerance to harsh conditions, industrial PVC is the material of choice for protective lift table skirts in manufacturing environments.
Customizing Plastics Materials
In addition to altering the formulation of the plastic, industry professionals employ various converting processes to transform plastics into the desired parts and products. These processes cut, finish, and assemble the materials into more practical sizes and shapes with the intention of manufacturing them into an intermediate or final product as specified by the customer.
Methods typically used for plastic conversion include:
- Slitting: Materials such as PVC are often produced in large rolls to maximize manufacturing efficiency. Slitting is a process that cuts these large and difficult-to-handle PVC rolls into smaller, more manageable rolls based on customer specifications.
- Sheeting: Sheeting involves the conversion of manufactured material—often in the form of continuous rolls—into individual sheets in lengths specified by the customer.
- Laminating: Laminating operations fuse two or more layers of material together using pressure-sensitive adhesives as bonding agents. This process allows for the construction of custom composite materials based on customer needs.
- Interleafing: The interleafing process involves placing a protective substrate—such as tissue or paper—between sheets of plastic to prevent scratching.
- Converting: Converting refers to the combination of raw materials (plastics, adhesives, etc.) and processes used to create or customize products.
Plastic Products and More at Adams Plastics
Plastics are highly versatile materials that can be molded into virtually any shape or form. Understanding the different types of plastics, their advantages, and how they can be manipulated is crucial in determining the best material for an application.
At Adams Plastics, our goal is to provide high-quality PVC, imitation leather, and laminate materials to a diverse and ever-expanding customer base. With our comprehensive range of converting services, we can deliver materials in a convenient and customized form based on the unique needs of each customer. We also provide closed-loop recycling services that allow customers to sell their post-industrial or consumer plastic scraps to us, where they can be processed for use in future applications.
If you would like to learn more about our material selection and customization options, contact us or request a quote today. To assist you with your product selection, you can also request a sample of any of our materials.