Ircon Infrared Sensors in Plastics Manufacturing and Processing
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Industry Applications - Plastic Processing

IR Sensors in Plastic Manufacturing
Infrared Temperature Measurement in Plastic Processing

Plastic parts and films are becoming increasingly expensive due to the high cost of raw materials. In addition, due to the high volume of parts produced, the customer cannot afford to generate scrap and waste excess energy. The temperature of the product during the production cycle is very critical and a noncontact infrared thermometer can remove the guesswork out of the production process.

The advantages of an infrared thermometer are:

  • Noncontact, so it does not interfere with the process
  • Fast response for fast temperature control
  • Ability to measure individual targets or the complete width of the target
  • Availability of alarms, recording and control outputs

To aid in the selection of the correct instrument, Ircon application engineers will test the plastic samples and provide the customer with the best selection of the specific sensor type. The tests are free of charge and the number of samples that can be tested is unlimited. 

Listed below are just a few examples of how Ircon IR sensors are used in several more common applications. For additional applications and product recommendations, please contact our application engineers.


Thermoforming of thick plastic panels for hot tubs, boats and appliance bodies utilizes large thick sheets of plastic (0.6mm/0.25 inches). These panels are preheated for forming in large infrared ovens. The time for heating is dependent on the thickness of the plastic and the color; the light colors take longer to heat than the dark colors. The sheets are heated on both the top and bottom, so the temperatures have to be controlled on both sides. Without the use of an infrared thermometer, the process may require several test runs to get the right heating time to provide the correct temperature, which generates expensive scrap panels.

By using the infrared thermometer, the part can be heated to the correct temperature the first time and thus, no scrap is generated. Several spot thermometers can be aimed at strategic locations to insure that the entire part is properly heated before being formed. A linescanner can be used to produce a complete image of the sheet as it exits the oven, prior to entering the mold area. The linescanner will show the complete temperature profile of the heaters and aid in setup.

Recommended product: Modline® 44 Spot Pyrometer and ScanIR®3 Linescanner and Thermal Imaging System.

Blown Film

The process of blown film requires very critical temperature control. By controlling the location of the frost line, the operator can basically control the thickness of the film and prevent blocking at the nip rolls. If the frost line is in the wrong location, too much or too little film is being produced and with the high volume of film made daily on one machine, the cost of excess film can be very expensive. The Ircon 3.4 micron thermometer can detect the frost line location and temperature and provide a control output to insure continuous accurate film temperature and thickness. The temperature of films as thin as 1 mil can be easily measured.

Recommended product: Modline 43 and ScanIR3.

Extruded and Stretched Films

During the extrusion of film, infrared linescanners can detect temperature variations across the web, due to die block failures. Quick detection prevents large volumes of expensive cast films being scrapped. During the stretching of the film in a tenter frame, the noncontact thermometers can be used to control the heating zones along the length and width of the hot air oven. Temperature control ensures even stretching, high product quality, and prevents overheating and energy waste.

Recommended products: Modline 43 and Modline 48 and ScanIR3.

Other Plastic Processing Applications

Contact your local Ircon sales office with questions and application requirements for these and other applications:

  • Extrusion coating and fim lamination
  • Drying of inks and coatings on films
  • Extrusion of plastic gaskets and tubing
  • Plastic coating of wire and cable
  • Production of PET liquid bottle preforms
  • Production of containers such as milk jugs, oil cans and juice containers


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