For many manufacturers and their customers, injection molding is a preferred process for making 3D plastic components as well as complete products. As implied by the name, injection molding consists of injecting molten plastic into a mold where it’s allowed to cool and solidify. The plastic item is then removed from the mold. This process is highly advantageous when you wish to make plastic components or products under the following conditions:
When Producing Large Quantities
Designing and building the mold is a significant up-front cost, however, once that’s complete, injection molding can rapidly produce parts and products. All that’s required, is the stock plastic material, usually in the form of granules, which is fed into the machine. The rest of the process is automated and requires 30 seconds or less per finished item. Sales of the mass-produced items quickly pay off the up-front costs, after which, production is very cheap.
When the Geometry Is Complex
Although products with simple geometry are easily made, the high pressures used in injection molding make fabrication of complicated shapes feasible as well. The high pressure ensures that the molten plastic fills the entire mold. Shapes that would be difficult and expensive to fabricate with other methods are cheaply mass produced.
When Special Material Properties Are Required
By careful use of additives and fillers, the properties of injection molded plastics can be readily manipulated. Additives can be used to alter the plastic’s color, to prevent oxidation with the atmosphere, to prevent electrostatic charge buildup, to resist ultraviolet degradation, and to improve impact resistance.
Fillers can be inert particles that increase the plastic’s hardness or stiffness. Because they occupy space and are generally cheaper than the base plastic, they also reduce the cost of the compounded material fed into the injection molding machine. Filler can also consist of glass fiber or beads. Beads will increase compressive strength, while fibers increase the tensile strength of the plastic product or component. Thanks to additives and fillers, plastics have been used to replace metal in many applications.
If you have questions about whether injection molding is right for your application, contact us for more information.