Much has been said about the ability of scientific molding to provide optimal control of the injection molding process – and in turn – help manufacturers of critical use-devices that contain precision-molded parts keep pace with competition and be the first to market. But what some wonder is what really makes scientific molding work in the first place. And the answer is the engineers who specialize in it.
When performed by molding personnel with thorough training and the proper certification, scientific molding virtually guarantees top quality by removing all guesswork from the injection molding process. The aim is to develop templates for repeatable production.
Here’s a look at the phases of scientific molding and the role that specialized engineers play to ensure success.
Engineers Oversee Each Phase
Scientific molding principles are applied across all phases of part manufacture, which includes the design of the part, design and building of the tool, material selection, and the injection molding process. Different engineers with the right level of knowledge oversee each phase.
- Part design: The design engineers carefully assess the customer’s needs and requirements of the intended part. A critical component of this stage is to determine the best approach based on the customer’s own resources and ability to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. The designer analyzes a range of specifics, such as polymer selection, gating design, corner radii, and draft and wall thickness.
- Tool design: A host of factors are considered, including the choice of steel type and gate location. This phase also includes work to determine venting and cooling channel layout and the location of the injector pins. In short, a specialized engineer vets the overall mechanical design of the mold.
- Tool build and debugging: At this phase, the engineer develops a robust process – which is at the heart of the scientific molding process. It involves a number of tests to define parameters and record data that result in the template to be used.
- Production: As with any highly robust process, the work is far from done when the part goes into production. Instead, process technicians closely monitor production against the template to identify and quickly resolve any issues that arise.
- Assembly: Specialized engineers add value in the assembly process by performing dimensional checks to ensure repeatability across multiple production runs.
Knowing, Not Guessing What’s Happening Inside the Mold
Looking at it from another angle, engineers trained in scientific molding possess a thorough understanding of what is happening with the material inside the mold, specifically as it relates to viscosity.
Again, there is no guessing. The specialists visualize how the polymer flows into and behaves inside the tool. By recording data when the machine is producing at peak efficiency (top productivity with minimal scrap), the engineers create a template of process parameters to be replicated when needed. That includes situations where:
- Specification issues arise during production
- An existing mold is set for a new production run
- Production is moved from machine to machine
Insight, Problem Solving and More
It’s called insight, and it’s invaluable in designing successful molds – not to mention molding processes. It’s also about problem solving. More to the point, specialized engineers can identify process issues quickly and accurately and work through solutions that will return the process to specification.
Ultimately, experts in scientific molding give manufacturers the capability they might not have otherwise to minimize production time and costs as they strive to deliver critical-use products where precision and speed-to-market is everything.