Plastic Injection Molding

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Description
Plastic injection molding is the most commonly used manufacturing process for the fabrication of plastic parts. A wide variety of products are manufactured using injection molding, which vary greatly in their size, complexity, and application.
The custom injection mold process requires the use of an injection molding machine, raw plastic material, and a mold. The plastic is melted in the injection molding machine and then injected into the mold, where it cools and solidifies into the final part.

Application
1. Plastic injection molding is used to produce thin-walled plastic parts for a wide variety of applications, one of the most common being plastic housings.
2. Plastic housing is a thin-walled enclosure, often requiring many ribs and bosses on the interior. These housings are used in a variety of products including household appliances, consumer electronics, power tools, and as automotive dashboards.
3. Other common thin-walled products include different types of open containers, such as buckets. Injection molding is also used to produce several everyday items such as toothbrushes or small plastic toys.
4. Many medical devices, including valves and syringes, are manufactured using custom injection mold as well.

Advantages of Plastic Injection Molding
1. Can form complex shapes and fine details
2. Excellent surface finish
3. Good dimensional accuracy
4. High production rate
5. Low labor cost
6. Scrap can be recycled

Custom Injection Mold

Plastic Injection Molding Process
The process cycle for injection molding is very short, typically between 2 seconds and 2 minutes, and consists of the following four stages:
1. Clamping: Prior to the injection of the material into the mold, the two halves of the mold must first be securely closed by the clamping unit.
2. Injection: The raw plastic material, usually in the form of pellets, is fed into the injection molding machine, and advanced towards the mold by the injection unit.
3. Cooling: The molten plastic that is inside the mold begins to cool as soon as it makes contact with the interior mold surfaces. As the plastic cools, it will solidify into the shape of the desired part.
4. Ejection: After sufficient time has passed, the cooled part may be ejected from the mold by the ejection system, which is attached to the rear half of the mold. When the mold is opened, a mechanism is used to push the part out of the mold.
After the injection molding cycle, some post processing is typically required. During cooling, the material in the channels of the mold will solidify attached to the part. This excess material, along with any flash that has occurred, must be trimmed from the part, typically by using cutters.
For some types of material, such as thermoplastics, the scrap material that results from this trimming can be recycled by being placed into a plastic grinder, also called regrind machines or granulators, which regrinds the scrap material into pellets. Due to some degradation of the material properties, the regrind must be mixed with raw material in the proper regrind ratio to be reused in the injection molding process.

Materials for Plastic Injection Molding
There are many types of materials that may be used in the injection molding process.
Most polymers may be used, including all thermoplastics, some thermosets, and some elastomers. When these materials are used in the injection molding process, their raw form is usually small pellets or a fine powder.
Also, colorants may be added in the process to control the color of the final part. The selection of a material for creating injection molded parts is not solely based upon the desired characteristics of the final part.
While each material has different properties that will affect the strength and function of the final part, these properties also dictate the parameters used in processing these materials.
Each material requires a different set of processing parameters in the injection molding process, including the injection temperature, injection pressure, mold temperature, ejection temperature, and cycle time.

A comparison of some commonly used materials is shown below:
Material name Abbreviation Description Applications
Acetal POM Strong, rigid, excellent fatigue resistance, excellent creep resistance, chemical resistance, moisture resistance, naturally opaque white, low/medium cost Bearings, cams, gears, handles, plumbing components, rollers, rotors, slide guides, valves
Acrylic PMMA Rigid, brittle, scratch resistant, transparent, optical clarity, low/medium cost Display stands, knobs, lenses, light housings, panels, reflectors, signs, shelves, trays
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene ABS Strong, flexible, low mold shrinkage (tight tolerances), chemical resistance, electroplating capability, naturally opaque, low/medium cost Automotive (consoles, panels, trim, vents), boxes, gauges, housings, inhalors, toys
Cellulose Acetate CA Tough, transparent, high cost Handles, eyeglass frames
Polyamide 6 (Nylon) PA6 High strength, fatigue resistance, chemical resistance, low creep, low friction, almost opaque/white, medium/high cost Bearings, bushings, gears, rollers, wheels
Polyamide 6/6 (Nylon) PA6/6 High strength, fatigue resistance, chemical resistance, low creep, low friction, almost opaque/white, medium/high cost Handles, levers, small housings, zip ties
Polyamide 11+12 (Nylon) PA11+12 High strength, fatigue resistance, chemical resistance, low creep, low friction, almost opaque to clear, very high cost Air filters, eyeglass frames, safety masks
Polycarbonate PC Very tough, temperature resistance, dimensional stability, transparent, high cost Automotive (panels, lenses, consoles), bottles, containers, housings, light covers, reflectors, safety helmets and shields
Polyester - Thermoplastic PBT, PET Rigid, heat resistance, chemical resistance, medium/high cost Automotive (filters, handles, pumps), bearings, cams, electrical components (connectors, sensors), gears, housings, rollers, switches, valves
Polyether Sulphone PES Tough, very high chemical resistance, clear, very high cost Valves
Polyetheretherketone PEEKEEK Strong, thermal stability, chemical resistance, abrasion resistance, low moisture absorption Aircraft components, electrical connectors, pump impellers, seals
Polyetherimide PEI Heat resistance, flame resistance, transparent (amber color) Electrical components (connectors, boards, switches), covers, sheilds, surgical tools
Polyethylene - Low Density LDPE Lightweight, tough and flexible, excellent chemical resistance, natural waxy appearance, low cost Kitchenware, housings, covers, and containers
Polyethylene - High Density HDPE Tough and stiff, excellent chemical resistance, natural waxy appearance, low cost Chair seats, housings, covers, and containers
Polyphenylene Oxide PPO Tough, heat resistance, flame resistance, dimensional stability, low water absorption, electroplating capability, high cost Automotive (housings, panels), electrical components, housings, plumbing components
Polyphenylene Sulphide PPS Very high strength, heat resistance, brown, very high cost Bearings, covers, fuel system components, guides, switches, and shields
Polypropylene PP Lightweight, heat resistance, high chemical resistance, scratch resistance, natural waxy appearance, tough and stiff, low cost. Automotive (bumpers, covers, trim), bottles, caps, crates, handles, housings
Polystyrene - General purpose GPPS Brittle, transparent, low cost Cosmetics packaging, pens
Polystyrene - High impact HIPS Impact strength, rigidity, toughness, dimensional stability, naturally translucent, low cost Electronic housings, food containers, toys
Polyvinyl Chloride - Plasticised PVC Tough, flexible, flame resistance, transparent or opaque, low cost Electrical insulation, housewares, medical tubing, shoe soles, toys
Polyvinyl Chloride - Rigid UPVC Tough, flexible, flame resistance, transparent or opaque, low cost Outdoor applications (drains, fittings, gutters)
Styrene Acrylonitrile SAN Stiff, brittle, chemical resistance, heat resistance, hydrolytically stable, transparent, low cost Housewares, knobs, syringes
Thermoplastic Elastomer/Rubber TPE/R Tough, flexible, high cost Bushings, electrical components, seals, washers
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