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Plastic caps. tops and stoppers perform a variety of precise functions. They are moulded from sophisticated materials using the latest manufacturing technology to snap shut, screw fix or even squirt and seal. This stopper is from a tube of vitamins and has a springy spiral to hold the pills in place and stop them breaking up in transit.

The plastic that the stopper is made from is different from the bottle it fits. In the recycling process this has to be removed before the material can be resold for processing. It would be much easier if we each ensured that the top was removed before we put it into the recycling bin.


In 1856 in Birmingham Alexander Parkes invented Parkesine the first man made plastic. However, it was not until the 1940’s and 50’s that there was an explosion of new types and their associated manufacturing techniques.

Before plastics, stoppers and caps were made from wood, cork rubber or glass.Materials that could be pushed into place to give a tight fit. They were often sealed with a wire fixing to keep them in place. Plastics offered the chance to create complex forms which can be easily fitted and can also perform more complex functions.


This cap was made by injection moulding where a cavity is machined into a two or three part steel mould. This space is filled with hot fluid plastic which cools and sets into the required shape. In this instance the mould has then to split open in a particular way to let the object be taken out.


The spiral spring presents a challenge, each arm is a unique curve  and The outer convex surfaces catch the light in particular ways as they sweep around the core.

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