Injection Molding: An Overview
Injection molding is the most common procedure used to produce plastic parts, and it forms an integral part of a vast array of different processes in most manufacturing sectors. It is commonly used to mass produce a specific part and ensure that all the objects are uniform, which is important for products that are modular and require high precision manufacturing. While many people look to new technologies such as 3D-printing as an innovation that will surpass injection molding as the go-to process to mass produce high volume objects, injection molding is continuously evolving, and there are new trends that will improve upon the process and ensure that the Injection Molding Industry remains in the forefront of manufacturing.
Computerizing Injection Mold
One of the most important improvements to the Injection Molding Industry is the advent of the computerized injection mold. This allows the mold process to be fully automated. The injection machine has sensors that allow the computer to control its actions, meaning that subtle adjustments can be made on the go. The result is reproducible quality and steady output.
Since the process can be fully automated, there is no longer a need for an operator, allowing for reduced costs of manufactured parts. This translates to cost savings further down the manufacturing stream, and ensures that injection mold technology remains competitive with 3D-printing, which is in many cases still prohibitively expensive.
Another trend ensuring that the Injection Molding Industry remains competitive is the introduction of energy-efficient drives, and it results in massive energy savings for manufacturers. Just think of energy savings as synonymous with cost savings. The more energy efficient the machines are, the more likely manufacturers are to continue using them, as both the reduced cost of operation and increased output produce favorable economics for the manufacturing plant. An added benefit of reduced energy consumption is, of course, the increase of sustainability within the industry. Many manufacturers would like to market their product as green, and lowered energy use can assist in that regard.
Injection Transfer Molding
Uniformity is one of the most important aspects of injection molding, and many previous processes have struggled to maintain uniformity when the parts are small and composed of multiple cavities. A new process, called Injection Transfer Molding (ITM), is able to massively improve the uniformity of small thermoplastic parts. Not only does this process improve the quality of the part produced, the cost of multiple molds would be reduced due to the use of different cavity inserts. Since the ITM process has lower shear and stress during the melt than other traditional processes, the resulting parts experience less shrinkage and warp, improving the quality of the final product. The lowered shear is also good for molding components other than plastics; for instance, ceramic powder compounds or long glass reinforcements. This ability opens up many possibilities for manufacturers who are looking to move away from plastics.
A Healthy Industry
No technology is static, and in the Injection Molding Industry, there are constant trends and improvements being made to guarantee that injection molding will remain a viable production technique down the road. Continual progress will be made to reduce the costs of running and producing injection molds, and many developments are being made to increase the quality of molds and the final products. The Injection Molding Industry has never been healthier, despite competition from new technologies, and the new trends will ensure that injection molding will remain a viable and productive industry for years to come.