The process of plastic molding involves the creation of molded plastic products using molten polymer resin or molten plastic. Materials such as wood and metal are difficult to mold, especially into configurations that are small and complex. These materials also cannot melt and be reformed, and can lead to a high amount of waste. However, plastic is highly malleable and can be turned, squeezed, twisted, or bent into countless shapes. Due to its wide range of beneficial properties, plastic has become a highly popular alternative material to these materials. Because of its versatility, plastic molding is a wise choice to fabricate a variety of products spanning a wide range of industries, and is the most common manufacturing technique that is used to fabricate these products. Items that we see and use every day, such as children’s toys, automobile dashboards, and bottle caps, are made by way of plastic molding.
The first step of the plastic molding process involves placing the desired material, in pellet form, into the machine’s hopper in preparation for melting. Next, the pellets are moved to a chamber where they are heated until they reach a molten liquid state. In this state, manufacturers can add agents such as dyes or other chemicals that will affect the final appearance of the product. Once the molten plastic is mixed, it is placed and enclosed into a mold cavity. With pressure, the material completely conforms to the design of the mold. Cooling agents that circulate cold liquid within the mold assist in the removal of heat from the plastic, leading the material to cool and fully solidify. Once the material is set, the mold can be split in two, releasing the filly formed product. Sometimes, a set of rods or pins is needed to safely remove the product from the mold. Once removed, the process begins all over again.
Plastic molding is utilized to some extent within a multitude of industries, such as automotive, computers, plumbing, medical, food service, and consumer. A popular material to use for plastic molding is plastic polymers, such as elastomers, thermosets, and thermoplastics. Plastic polymers are a popular choice due to its pliability. Plastic molding involves a prefabricated mold and melted plastics. However, there are other manufacturing methods available such as vacuum forming, compression molding, blow molding, and injection molding. The type of molding process is typically dependent on the intended purpose of the final product. Because of the ability of the plastic molding process to generate products at a fast rate and at close tolerances, it can be used for purposes such as prototyping and mass production.
The materials used in plastic molding have differing characteristics. Thermoplastics can be heated and melted down to a pliable state and then molded into a wide range of configurations. Once shaped, the thermoplastic material can be readjusted if necessary. However, in freezing temperatures, thermoplastic can become brittle. Thermosets, including polyimides or melamine resin, are hard and brittle once they dry. However, unlike thermoplastics, they cannot be readjusted or remolded once they have set. Elastomers, the most common form of which is rubber, maintain their elastic properties after they have cooled. There are some products that benefit greatly from the elasticity, including tool handles and children’s toys. There are other products where elasticity is required.
Plastic molding comes with numerous advantages. First, the process has a fast turnaround time. The speed may vary depending on the product’s complexity, but in general, the turnaround time is very short. In addition, the plastic component is often ready as soon as it leaves the mold, and usually does not need to undergo any further processes such as surface finishing. The vast majority of plastic molding machines are automated, and thus require little to no manual input. As a result, plastic molding machines are safer to use and they keep labor costs down. Plastic molding equipment keeps wastage costs at a minimum. They generate only a small amount of waste with every cycle, and the small amount of waste that is produced can be easily reused and recycle for other molding processes. One disadvantage to the plastic molding process is the initial cost of the equipment. The molds and the machinery can cost several thousand dollars. However, both the molds and equipment are engineered to last, and the products they generate are at a low cost. Therefore, there are numerous industries that swear by the plastic molding process. Plastic molding is a highly recommended process for manufacturing products, and its advantages far outweigh its drawbacks.
More Plastic Molding Information
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Plastic Molding – MSI Mold
Plastic Molding – MSI Mold