Explore the process that is required to make a polycarbonate sports bottle.
Sports bottles are useful items for activities like professional sports, daily exercise routines, running, biking, weight training, yoga, Pilates, and many others. Most sports bottles are made a highly durable and resilient material called polycarbonate plastic, which is completely safe for use with consumable products. What is polycarbonate, and how do the manufacturers produce it in various shapes and applications?
Polycarbonate holds unique properties that make it more suitable for use in sports bottles. There are different forms of polycarbonate plastic, and the polycarbonate used in sports bottles is called BPA (bisphenol A). This form of the plastic has high heat tolerances, is highly durable, and can be fashioned into a number of products such as bullet-proof glass and eyeglasses. The inert property of the polycarbonate is perfect for the use of consumable products including, but not limited to, sports bottles, baby bottles, and pharmaceutical containers.
Polycarbonate is nearly unbreakable and extremely lightweight; it is one-sixth the weight of glass and hundreds of times stronger than glass, which makes it perfect for high-impact activities like sports. Polycarbonate is slightly more expensive to produce than acrylic, but its advantages far outweigh the costs. Polycarbonate needs to be formed into the sports bottle shape for use by the consumer. This is done through an injection molding process where melted polycarbonate is pushed into preformed molds. Due to the high temperatures that polycarbonate can withstand, the manufacturing equipment must be kept at an eighty-degree Celsius temperature to ensure proper molding. The high temperatures produce stress-free and strain-free plastics for use in sports bottles.
Polycarbonate starts as a resin, which is the same kind of material found in epoxy and polyurethane mixtures. It needs to be injected into the molding via a nozzle or tube, depending upon the application, and cooled to make the mold solid. This creates the bottle portion, but what about the screw-on cap and drinking straw if used on the sports bottle? The lid or screw-on cap is made through the use of an extrusion process where a long cylinder of polycarbonate is measured, cut into portions, and then has the screw threads added. The polycarbonate needs to be kept warm but not melted in order to add the threads.
The straws can be produced in an injection mold or through the use of thin sheets. Thin sheets are used if the sports bottle straw is thinner than 15mm. A sheet is formed out of polycarbonate and then heated and shaped using thermoforming. Thermoforming is the use of heat to manipulate a material, and it is used in metal work, plastics, and even in shaping wood with the addition of steam. This process allows the polycarbonate to be formed into any number of shapes for the application of sports bottles. Polycarbonate sports bottles have provided a durable and viable option in manufacturing for the last 50 years. They are safe, almost unbreakable, and can be used by the general public or professionals around the world.
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