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Complex injection molding is a viable solution for many projects, but there’s often hesitation in using it because of confusion about which material matches the job. While “thermoplastic” and “thermoset” sound similar and both are appropriate for a wide range of applications, the material properties of these two resin categories and how they behave during processing ultimately reveal the best fit.
In this age of global competitiveness and tough regulation, superior quality is the name of the game in differentiating you from competitors and increasing your market share.
OEMs in various industries are designing increasingly complex components, products and devices with higher injection molding tolerances that must meet stringent quality standards, regulatory compliance and cost-effectiveness. This can be achieved through scientific molding, the best designed and controlled manufacturing process possible.
It seems old-fashioned to load anything by hand these days, especially in a high-tech industry like injection molding. However, “hand loads”—mold inserts that are physically placed into a mold and then removed when the part is finished—are essential for the production of certain parts.
Scientific molding is the best way to deliver complex, high-performance parts. It is a highly precise, data-driven process that eliminates any guesswork and maximizes quality and manufacturability. Scientific molding is especially valuable when it comes to decisions about process optimization, molding and tooling design validation, and product quality.
Injection molds are a necessary and typically expensive part of any critical use plastic component project. Oftentimes, protecting this considerable tooling investment is overlooked until the mold breaks down or experiences another serious problem that bottoms out the bottom line. With good reason—emergency repair expenses on top of the time, productivity and product lost can be staggering.
Insert molding is a type of overmolding where a hard substrate component or “insert” is placed inside a mold cavity in an injection molding machine and then “overshot” with an exterior layer—typically a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). The interaction between the insert and the TPE must be fully understood to create the strongest possible bond. The surface of the insert should also be free of contamination, including dust or even skin oil—even the slightest contamination can weaken the bond between the TPE and the substrate, leading to premature failure.
Three-dimensional (3D) printing has been generating excitement in the medical field for a while, and rightly so. While traditionally some have thought of 3D printing and injection molding for plastic parts and products to be competing technology, in reality, both have their place in the medical field.
A surprising number of projects are completed without using a prototype mold—the general idea being that a prototype mold is just an extra step that slows down overall development and production adding unncessary cost. Actually, just the opposite is true—without a prototype mold, a lot of adjustments are usually required on the production tool, driving up cost which in turn causes delays in production.
The practice and purpose of debugging a mold is at the very core of scientific molding. This critical step ensures consistent and repeatable production of flawless molded parts by having engineers push the mold relentlessly under realistic conditions (and sometimes beyond); their goal is to identify and correct weaknesses before the mold is called into action.
Here’s a look at the basic process of debugging, including an infographic that visually summarizes each step: