If you’re a fan of the television show How It’s Made, you no doubt have seen plastic injection molding in use. From simple products to elaborate designs, injection molding can be used to make a small quantity of prototypes, full production runs in the millions, or anything in between. Beyond just what you’ve seen in the marketplace, there are multiple injection molding technologies available to produce your next product. Here are six technologies that you could use to bring your product to life in shorter time with higher quality:
Structural Foam Molding
Structural foam molding is best suited for large plastic parts. It is a low pressure injection molding process where an inert gas is introduced into melted polymer for the purpose of reducing density and weight of the finished product while increasing the strength. The lower pressure allows more efficient molding equipment and tooling to be used resulting in the mass production of very large or parts or multiple parts being produced on a single machine, in a single cycle at a lower cost than conventional injection molding.
Gas-Assisted Injection Molding
Molding parts with thick walls for structure and durability has an inherent risk of distortion and warping as the part cools. Cooling doesn’t occur at the same rate for the wall thickness, which can leave your perfectly designed part a mess after fully cooling. Gas-assisted injection molding can prevent warping and distortion by injecting pressurized gas into a plastic material-filled injection mold. The pressure keeps the plastic on the outside maintaining a smooth surface while the interior of the part stays hollow or porous. This will prevent deformation on the part during cooling and reduce the overall cost of the part. Less material can be used for the part since it is hollow.
Liquid Silicone Injection Molding
Typical injection molding involves a melted liquid resin forced into a chilled mold to form parts. Liquid silicone molding does the opposite. A chilled or cold silicone is forced into a heated mold and then vulcanized to form the desired shape. Some of the common application of silicone injection are electrical connectors, medical equipment, automotive products and parts, seals, and sealing membranes. Silicone offers high stability, temperature resistance to a wide range from hot to cold, chemical resistance, electrical insulation, and biocompatibility. One of the drawbacks is that once formed, silicone will not return to a liquid and be reused for additional molding. This is a characteristic of normal resins, but it’s not with silicone.
Thin Wall Molding
Thin wall molding is best used to create parts requiring a thin wall, but also requires a thorough design review to ensure strength and durability will be achieved. It is an injection molding technology that is frequently used in creating testing apparatus, vessels and tubes, electronics, and other simple enclosures. One key element in thin wall molding is to ensure high quality after molding, which some use vision systems to scan the finished parts for cracks, surface defects, and tight tolerances.
Metal Injection Molding
Most familiar with injection molding probably assume only plastic can be molded in this fashion. Metal is usually cast or forged into shapes, but not molded in this way. New technology is becoming available that can injection mold metal. One drawback is the cost is substantially more than the traditional methods of injection with plastic and how metals are currently formed. This molding technology is usually kept for high-end or niche markets like electronics, medical, and aerospace applications.
Custom Formulated Materials
Most would associate technology with equipment, but a custom material can definitely fit the bill as a newer technology. Specialized materials move the injection molding industry forward and allow for custom products, techniques, and characteristics. Fillers and additives can add extra characteristics and properties to new materials, such as electrical conductivity, durability in high heat environments, or specialized chemical resistance.
These six technologies offer a high level of quality while still moving quickly through prototypes and production. The right team can help you meet your product development goals.
When you’re ready to work with an elite team that produces world-class products, call us (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 with ease.