Injection mold maintenance is a key step in increasing the longevity of the mold and ensuring good product is created. It’s more than just cleaning and repairs. The process says a lot about your strategy for business, and the quality program your company has in place. If you want to ensure smooth operations and future business, keep your injection molds healthy by performing regular maintenance as part of your daily operations:
Managing the Cost of Ownership with Prevention
One of the key elements to managing the total cost of ownership is to have a preventative maintenance process. That means preventing repairs instead of making repairs. At SEA-LECT Plastics we look at the big picture and realize that molds in our shop undergoing repairs are not making products or profit. Our maintenance strategy is directly tied to the success of our business operations, where an ounce of prevention keeps operations running smoothly. Any current plastic injection molds and new molds brought into service have an established preventative maintenance plan to ensure the longevity of every mold.
Every Mold Needs a Maintenance Schedule
Every mold in your facility needs a maintenance schedule. Whether it’s new, or one that jus transferred in, every mold should have a timeline of when it needs to be inspected, cleaned, and prepared for service. Regular maintenance intervals will keep the plastic injection mold prepared for service and detect any problems that may lead to poor quality parts or stopping production.
A proper maintenance plan should include detailed instructions for mold cleaning, proper maintenance, and what repairs can be done. The plan should also outline the timing for each item, whether it’s based on time or number of parts produced. The resin used may also influence when each mold should be serviced.
Every Injection Mold Needs a Detailed Maintenance Plan
Maintenance plans should include more than just the timing for service. Every mold in the facility should include details on what can be services, any parts that are to be replaced rather than refurbished, and what cleaners or solvents can be use without causing damage to the mold.
Some detailed tasks for service include:
- Inspection criteria for all parts of the mold. Every surface, all moving parts, all fittings, etc. You should be able to determine if a part is OK to be put back in service or to be replaced based on the inspection criteria.
- Components to inspect and their inspection frequency. This includes resin runners, molding cavities, gates and sprues that regularly come in contact with molten resin.
- A detailed list of cleaners and solvents that can be used on the mold that will not harm the surface or cause corrosion.
- A detailed list of lubricants that can be used on the mold that will not harm the surface or cause corrosion.
- The correct procedure for storage of the plastic injection mold if it will not be immediately returned to operation. Should the mold be completely dry, halves separated, the cooling runners flushed, and components lubricated? Should the surfaces be coated with an anti-corrosion spray to prevent rust formation? All of these details will help return the mold to service quickly.
Part Quality Can Indicate Injection Mold Condition
Did you know that the quality of the part coming out of the injection mold can indicate if the mold is in a good condition? If your parts have flashing on the edges, sinks in the surface, or short filling, the mold may need to be serviced. One of your continued quality checks for mold condition should be the parts it is producing. If you detect rust on any surface, scorch marks on the plastic parts, or odd shapes, the mold may have a water leak around a seal that needs to be repaired. Good parts indicate a healthy mold condition, and molds left unrepaired end up costing more in the long run. Don’t allow molds to languish and be neglected.
How Your Production Environment Influences Molding
You wouldn’t think the surrounding environment for injection molding would make a difference, but extreme temperatures, pressures, and humidity can affect the parts coming from the plastic injection mold. Some molders that operate in harsh climates choose to keep the facility enclosed with humidity and temperatures controlled to prevent problems with their molding operations.
The environment can also affect the maintenance schedule. Many plastic injection molds are made from uncoated steel, which can start to rust in environments with high heat and moisture. You may need to consider adjusting the maintenance schedule and strategy in accordance with your surrounding environment to ensure your molds won’t be affected.
SEA-LECT Plastics is a leader in plastic injection molding with options for assembly and logistics. We can aid with resin selection on a new product, offer turn-key assembly options, and program management to see the complete development cycle through with success. Give us a call at (425) 339-0288 or email us at email@example.com. We can offer you advice on the best technology to use, the best materials to meet your product demands, and how to navigate through each development stage. At SEA-LECT Plastics, we specialize in military product applications, outdoor adventure gear, musical instruments, supporting the medical and consumer product industries. Our goal is to make your project efficient and cost-effective to manufacture, assemble, and ship no matter how complicated your concept is.
Matthias Poischbeg was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. Matt moved to Everett, Wash., after finishing his bachelor’s degree in business in 1995 to work for Sea-Dog Corporation, a manufacturer, and distributor of marine and rigging hardware established in 1923.
In 1999, Matt took over the reins at Sea-Lect Plastics Corporation, a sister company of Sea-Dog and a manufacturer of plastic injection molded products with an in-house tool & die shop. Matthias Poischbeg is also a contributor to Grit Daily.