A quick visit to a plastic molding company reveals that there is a huge amount of injection molding machinery required to make the entire process possible. For the uninitiated layman, it must be quite overwhelming to see so many different types of machines all working together just to make a lowly plastic part.
Besides the obvious molding machine, a few of the more evident include: chillers, robots, blenders, grinders, driers, temperature controllers, vacuum loaders, conveyors, air compressors, overhead cranes, forklifts, and many other tools of the trade.
Here is a brief overview of the above mentioned machines used in plastic injection molding. Of course, this is not a complete list, but it does give a good picture of what is involved.
Injection Molding Machines
These range in size from micro molding machines to huge presses capable of producing things like car bumpers or truck fascias. There are also many types, such as the typical horizontal press and vertical molding machine.
They are available as hydraulic or electric, or even a hybrid of the two. Each has it’s own advantage over the other, it all depends on the application.
Injection molding, or moulding, is the most common way plastic is processed from pellets to the plastic parts we all use. Cell phones, computers, calculators, lamps, headphones, and on and on it goes; there are so many products it is staggering to the imagination.
Chillers are used to control the temperature of the water used to keep an injection mold at the optimum temperature to mold a plastic part. Water coming in from the city, well or tower must either be heated or cooled to the correct temperature. These units are typically separate from the molding machine and plumbed into it.
- Robots are not little people roaming the shop floor, but rather mechanical devices that resemble a hand in many ways. Usually they perform simple tasks, such as picking the sprue and runner from the mold. They also can remove the molded parts and place them in packaging or a bin for further enhancement, such as printing.
- Blenders are vacuum operated machines that blend plastic pellets to the correct formula. This is important because customers demand specific characteristics from the part. Many medical parts, for example use highly engineered resins to achieve very specific properties.
- Grinders are typically those noisy machines next to the molding machine that grind up scrap parts and runners that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Many times the molded parts are a blend of regrind and virgin material.
- Driers are used to remove humidity from the raw plastic pellets before it is injected into the mold. Plastic will not mold correctly unless the dew point is at a pre-determined level. Most driers are of the desiccant type and are very dependable and effective.
Plastic injection molding is the most common type of plastic molding, and the vast array of machinery required is an impressive integration of technologies. When any one of the various machines fails, the entire process comes to a halt.
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