Today, plastic squeeze tubes have become the go-to for plastic tubing and containers in almost every industry including dental, cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical. Plastic tubing is cheap, efficient and aesthetically pleasing, all while keeping contents fresh and giving a longer shelf life. Plastic is also known for its durability and strength and with its high elasticity it can be easily maneuvered to fit in small spaces or used for travel. The manufacturing process to make plastic squeeze tubes is called extrusion. It takes resin and color concentrate, mixes it together and places that mixture in an extruder hopper, which is a machine that melts plastic and turns it into a solid collapsible form.
The melting zone ensures that the resin is heated gradually and consistently before it goes through a screen pack to detect any contaminants that are then removed. The material is heated inside the barrel and moved through a set of sizing dies, which are thick steel disks that serve as molds for the plastic and allow for even flow. The functions of the dies are to give the molten plastic its shape and size.At this point, the sleeve is ready to be cooled with water and then cut to the precise shape.
There are three manufacturing processes that can be used to continue the extrusion. The most common one through is called “downs” and is the process of compression and molding the head onto the tube. This process requires the sleeve to be put on the conveyer belt where it’s bound to the body of the tube. This process also involves molding the shoulder, sleeve and head together where the structure is then put on a pin conveyer. The other two heading methods called injection molding and additional compressional molding are also widely used. These methods take a molten donut of the plastic resin and drop it into the molding station to secure the head to the tube.
The tube then has to go through a print mandrel in an accumulatorso that color and design can be applied. The tube can undergo offset printing, silk screens, and flexographic printing to get the desired look. For offset printing, every different color is transferred to one plate by a series of rollers. It then comes together with a rubber blanket which then transfers the ink to the tube where UV light or heat cures the wet ink to produce the design. With flexographic and silk screen printing, the inks are applied to the tube separately and the UV light cures the ink after each color is applied. After the colors and designs are applied to each tube, the tubes are topped with the cap to seal the product and placed on the conveyer belt where they are finally ready to be packed and shipped.