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Injection Molding Process
Injection molding is widely used in industrial applications to produce parts for the automotive, appliance, packaging, electrical, and medical sectors to name a few. One of the key advantages of injection molding is that parts with complex geometry may be produced. Injection molding can be used to produce parts with low to high volume requirements.
During the injection molding process, polymer material is fed by gravity from a hopper into a heated barrel where the material is mixed then forced through a nozzle into a mold cavity. The polymer material cools and solidifies while forming to the configuration of the mold. Water is normally sent throughout the die to speed the cooling time. The injection molding processes produces parts with parting lines and ejector pin marks are usually present. Plastic parts may be fabricated and decorated after the injection molding process. Components may be machined, hot stamped, or ultrasonic welded subsequent to being injection molded. Common materials used to produce injection molds are aluminum and tool steels. Computer numerical controlled machining and electrical discharge machining are the manufacturing processes used to produce the molds. Molds may be designed with a single cavity for low volume, and they may have many cavities for high volume, injection molding production. Molds will be designed with the proper draft so that parts can be easily removed.
Injection molding can be used to process both thermoplastic and thermoset materials, although thermoplastic is much more common and thermoset injection molding requires special equipment. There are wide array of polymer materials that are injection molded. Some of the most common plastics that are used in the injection molding process are nylon, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, and polycarbonate.
Injection molding is a versatile manufacturing process that is used by many industries to produce quality polymer components at a reasonable cost. The wide variety of geometries that can be produced by injection molding coupled with the vast types of materials that can be processed make the injection molding process a vitally important process with a large spectrum of applications.
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