What does a plastics engineer do?
A Plastics Engineer is a specialist in the art and science of utilizing polymeric materials in manufacturing. Plastics Engineers generally design and specify particular processes that result in the production of large quantities of identical items that are either stand-alone products, or components integrated into more complex products.
Because different plastics have unique properties, you must understand and meet a daunting series of challenges in accomplishing your work. To be a Plastics Engineer, you must be an expert in such matters as the mechanical properties of individual plastics, as well as their weather resistance, thermal characteristics, electrical properties, and behavior when exposed to certain chemicals.
In addition, you must be extremely conscious of materials and manufacturing costs. This is because the massive production runs involved in most plastics fabrication greatly multiply even the tiniest changes in per pound, per volume, or per unit expenditures.
As with their other characteristics, different plastics have vastly different cost structures, ranging from incredibly inexpensive commodity pricing for simple plastics easily processed into mass-produced consumer products, to extremely high costs associated with specialty plastics requiring unusual or highly specialized processing to serve the most demanding applications.
You’ll most likely want to specialize in some combination of automotive plastics, biodegradable plastics, consumer plastics, elastomers, epoxies, medical plastics, or recyclable plastics. You’ll also find it more effective to work with the most popular forms of processing, such as calendering, compression molding, extrusion, injection moulding, fiberglass molding, filament winding, laminating, pultrusion, stretch-blow molding, thermoforming, transfer molding, ultrasonic welding, or vacuum forming.