Injection Molding Climbs the Ladder - plastic equipment manufacturing industry

Injection molding is unanimously the core process in plastic equipment manufacturing industry. As in any industry sector, the present techniques and technologies used in manufacturing process deserve promotion in terms of every aspect including energy efficiency, output quality, processing time, reliability of usage and ease of operation. Being the core process of plastic manufacturing Industry, injection molding is no exception to a further development in all the aspects mentioned above.

Injection molding, as one could expect, has been witnessing gradual and unrelated developments at different parts of the world. For example, Multi-material injection molding was the point of concern during early 2000s. Multi material injection molding was a best preference as it enabled plastic producers to make a unique formulation and produce a desired plastic output. Multi-material molding process development was a part of relentless research that strives to make offer plastic industry the best of several possible molding processes. A report was published way back in 2002, named as Multi-Material Injection Moulding. It was composed by V. Goodship and J.C. Love at the University of Warwick. Despite of its inception early in 2000s, multi material injection is even now considered a basic process by many industry firms. Currently, the development has shifted to a new dimension in injection molding.

A set of research works done on plastic injection molding were/are environment conscious. A process called Environmentally Benign injection Molding was proposed by a bunch of enthusiasts from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. The report aims at erasing the adverse environmental effects of petro- based plastic production, by using bio based polymers like bacterial polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), poly (hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) in particular. But, use of these polymer structures entertains inferior material properties and the material costs are relatively high under a normal material processing concept. Hence, a microcellular injection molding concept is suggested to be incorporated so that the outcome is dimensionally stable and lightweight owing to the composition used. And to reduce the cost of components to be used, supercritical atmospheric gases like CO2 and N2 are used in plasticizing and foaming.

Another stimulating development one could ever think of is Automation of injection molding. But, automation here doesn't refer to process control automation, but it refers to automating the component mixing and material parameter monitoring throughout molding process. This is most desired by production units that need to produce multiple identical units that have a critical component mix to attain desired properties in the unit. Especially, the medical electronic devices made out of plastic need specific proportions of material mixing and these mixing parameters are to be continuously monitored by the system itself or a controller sitting outside the process. Automating this process has been a task, after the completion of which, plastic injection molding can be referred as Artificially Intelligent. During mid-April of 2010 Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft suggested and deviced a process based on Artificial intelligence in injection molding for metals which can be correspondingly designed for plastic molding as well.

Empowering a process with intelligence and a machine with thought is always challenging and to hear such news is always interesting. Interesting is yet to come and make Plastics making easier, discerning, accurate and efficient.

Next out coming report publishes more on Intelligent Injection Molding processes as soon as they are explored...

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