Plastic injection is a manufacturing process that uses high amounts of pressure to force melted plastic into a mold. It is used to make items like parts of medical equipment that must be able to withstand repeated use and rough handling. The high pressure involved allows the plastic to harden faster and more completely than would be possible using other methods. Plastic injection also gives manufacturers a wide selection of materials to choose from. Depending on the type of plastic chosen, it can be combined with different additives to create unique characteristics for the finished product.
The process begins with a barrel that holds the molten plastic and a reciprocating screw. A hydraulic cylinder provides the injection pressure to the screw. As it moves along the barrel, the screw pushes the plastic through the center of the machine. Its backflow is prevented by a non-return valve. Once the screw reaches a transfer position, the machine injects the plastic at the rate required to fill the cavity to about 95%. During this process, the machine applies hold pressure to the mold to compensate for shrinkage.
Molten plastic is then transferred to the mold cavity through a runner and gate. The sprue is the main passageway that connects the melt delivery channels (runner and gates) to the mold cavities. The gate is a small opening that directs the flow of melted plastic into each cavity. After the sprue and the runner are filled, they solidify together with the melted plastic inside the cavities. This causes a parting line, sprue marks, and ejector pin marks on the finished plastic part.
Throughout the history of plastic injection, it has evolved to meet the needs of a changing world. Modern plastics like polyethylene are tough and lightweight, making them perfect for many consumer products. These new materials have helped to produce lighter cell phones and laptops that are more compact but still offer excellent durability.
Because of the versatility of modern plastics and their ability to be molded into a wide variety of shapes, plastic injection has become one of the most popular manufacturing processes for producing consumer and industrial goods. This is especially true in fields such as medicine, where the components produced must be able to withstand repeated use for years on end.
Injection molding requires a great deal of precision and attention to detail. Each of the machined mold components that work together to manufacture a plastic part must be perfectly machined to extremely precise tolerances. This is not easy, particularly because the injection machine produces such immense pressure to form the melted plastic into its final shape. For this reason, it is very difficult to change a plastic injection mold after the initial planning and tooling stages. However, the overall benefit of using injection molds far outweighs any initial upfront costs and lost production time that may be associated with them. This is why most companies choose to invest in the highest quality injection molds they can afford.