In manufacturing, the efficiency of processes is driven by the ability of the manufacturer to produce similar parts in bulk. Mass production often requires specific parts to be reproduced accurately and in an efficient manner.
Injection moulding is a valuable manufacturing technique that provides a framework for parts to be reproduced in large quantities. This means that once the initial setup costs are catered for, the cost of producing multiple parts in succession is quite affordable.
How does the process work?
Injection moulding typically involves the moulding of molten plastic within a tool called an injection moulding machine. Molten plastic is injected into a channel within the machine called a sprue, which then connects to a series of other channels called runners.
These runners guide the molten plastic across the tool into specially designed cavities. As the plastic travels within the moulding tool, it undergoes a series of heating and cooling that shape and size the parts as desired. The process occurs very quickly (in most cases it is only a few seconds long) and it results in multiple parts of the same kind being produced in a cost-effective manner.
Applications of injection moulding
Injection moulding has many applications in industries, construction and manufacturing. It is the preferred method for creating items such as bottle caps, packaging material, and electronic components. In fact, the efficiency of injection moulding makes it the most commonly used process in part manufacturing.
The process can also use a variety of materials, ranging from thermoplastics to elastomers and even thermosets.
Over time, more materials can be moulded and reproduced through injection moulding. Manufacturers are now able to incorporate alloys and other mixtures of materials into injection moulding machines to produce the desired parts. The secret lies in identifying the exact properties of the material that you're working with and modifying it to ensure that the final parts are both strong and functional. The efficiency of injection moulding has been used to produce the following parts:
- Automotive and aerospace components
Most vehicle and aeroplane parts are produced en masse. It is important for each part to be identical so that different machines can function in a near parallel manner. Injection moulding is the preferred technique for mass reproduction of these components.
- Electronic parts
Electronics such as computers, TVs, radios, and mobile phones all need to function in a similar manner (if it is two of the same type of products). Parts that are used in assembling electronics are mostly designed via injection moulding.
- Medical products
Medical devices and other products need to be as accurate and reliable as possible. Therefore, their parts are normally produced in large quantities via injection moulding to ensure that different devices function in a similar and effective manner.