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Injection Molding

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Injection Molding --- Aheadmold

2.3    Injection Molds

Injection Molding

Injection molding is principally used for the production of thermoplastic parts, and it is also one of the oldest. Currently injection-molding accounts for 30% of all plastics resin consumption. Typical injection-molded products are cups, containers, housings, tool handles, knobs, electrical and communication components (such as telephone receivers), toys, and plumbing fittings.
Polymer melts have very high viscosities due to their high molecular weights; they cannot be poured directly into a mold under gravity flow as metals can, but must be forced into the mold under high pressure. Therefore while the mechanical properties of a metal casting are predominantly determined by the rate of heat transfer from the mold walls, which determines the grain size and grain orientation in the final casting, in injection molding the high pressure during the injection of the melt produces shear forces that are the primary cause of the final molecular orientation in the material. The mechanical properties of the finished product are therefore affected by both the injection conditions and the cooling conditions within the mold.
Injection molding has been applied to thermoplastics and thermosets, foamed parts, and has been modified to yield the reaction injection molding (RIM) process, in which the two components of a thermosetting resin system are simultaneously injected and polymerize rapidly within the mold. Most injection molding is however performed on thermoplastics, and the discussion that follows concentrates on such moldings.
A typical injection molding cycle or sequence consists of five phases (see Fig. 2-1):
(1)    Injection or mold filling;
(2)    Packing or compression;
(3)    Holding;
(4)    Cooling;
(5)    Part ejection.
Fig. 2-1   Injection molding process

Plastic pellets (or powder) are loaded into the feed hopper and through an opening in the injection cylinder where they are carried forward by the rotating screw. The rotation of the screw forces the pellets under high pressure against the heated walls of the cylinder causing them to
melt. Heating temperatures range from 265 to 500 °F. As the pressure builds up, the rotating
screw is forced backward until enough plastic has accumulated to make the shot. The injection ram (or screw) forces molten plastic from the barrel, through the nozzle, sprue and runner system, and finally into the mold cavities. During injection, the mold cavity is filled volumetrically. When the plastic contacts the cold mold surfaces, it solidifies (freezes) rapidly to produce the skin layer. Since the core remains in the molten state, plastic flows through the core to complete mold filling. Typically, the cavity is filled to 95%~98% during injection.
Then the molding process is switched over to the packing phase. Even as the cavity is filled, the molten plastic begins to cool. Since the cooling plastic contracts or shrinks, it gives rise to defects such as sink marks, voids, and dimensional instabilities. To compensate for shrinkage, addition plastic is forced into the cavity. Once the cavity is packed, pressure applied to the melt prevents molten plastic inside the cavity from back flowing out through the gate. The pressure must be applied until the gate solidifies. The process can be divided into two steps (packing and holding) or may be encompassed in one step (holding or second stage). During packing, melt forced into the cavity by the packing pressure compensates for shrinkage. With holding, the pressure merely prevents back flow of the polymer melt.
After the holding stage is completed, the cooling phase starts. During cooling, the part is held in the mold for specified period. The duration of the cooling phase depends primarily on the material properties and the part thickness. Typically, the part temperature must cool below the material’s ejection temperature.
While cooling the part, the machine plasticates melt for the next cycle. The polymer is subjected to shearing action as well as the condition of the energy from the heater bands. Once the shot is made, plastication ceases. This should occur immediately before the end of the cooling phase. Then the mold opens and the part is ejected.

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