Plastic Injection Molding: The Art Of Crafting Useful Items

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There's no doubt that life would be very different if it weren't for the various contributions to plastic injection molding. I mean, think about the number of things in your house that would be impossible without the process! Everything from your child's toys to the window frames around your house have gone through plastic injection molding. It has become a process that we have thus far relied on heavily, and one might say that it is now permanent to our way of life, at least until something new comes along.

At the current rate that plastic injection molding is going though, it just doesn't seem like there can be much competition in the field. Several decades of work and research have been dedicated to the field of plastic injection molding, and with excellent results, as is clear by the number of products manufactures produce and consumers consume. But where did plastic injection molding come from, and how does it work?

In any industrial process, the environment needs to come into play as far as wasteful and harmful material. Thankfully, plastic injection molding is actually a very safe way to create useful and environmentally friendly plastic products in mass quantity! Plastic injection molding consists of the melting of different types of thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics. It is such a completely complex process that takes actually only a few minutes, I can't believe I had never heard about it until now!

Injection molding was invented by John Wesley Hyatt in 1868; this was the first time the process had ever been seen before. He began to make billiard balls by injecting a material called celluloid into sphere-shaped molds. Celluloid was invented in the 1820's, and was most often used because it looked similar to ivory or bone. Soon after his first steps into plastic injection molding, Hyatt looked to make the process easier on himself, so he created the very first injection molding machine (which employed the use of a plunger-type piece).

From then on, plastic injection molding began to rapidly rise in popularity. The demand for injection molded parts was at an all time high, and it seemed that Hyatt's first machine could not hold up to all of the demand from consumers. Finally, in 1946, James Hendry revolutionized the machine and with it, the industry. He replaced the part of the plunger with that of an industrial-sized screw, which multiplies the speed and thus the quantity of the plastic injection molding process.

Manufacturers have to first decide on what plastic they want their product to be made out of. For example, if a company's main output product is women's nylon stockings, then they will purchase raw nylon plastic. Other popular choices of plastic are acrylic, delrin, teflon, PVC (or polyvinyl chloride), polyamide, and polystyrene; all come in the form of small beads called resin. Plastics that are unsafe for consumption have already been ruled out and banned, so plastic companies are well aware of the safest way to buy their products!

Safety should always be a concern when it comes to manufacturing plastics, they are non-degradeable, which isn't great since we consume so much of it every day. On the bright side, awareness for recycling has increased exponentially in the last few years, and encouraging other people to recycle is always a main topic at college campuses! Thermoplastics have the ability to be heated and reheated as many times as necessary, so recycling is so important!

The plastic beads, or resin, are then put into the first part of the machine called the feed-hopper, which allows the resin to be gravity-fed into a barrel-shaped heating device. The screw begins to twist and turn through the plastic as it falls from the barrel, it forces the plastic to essentially stir itself as it begins the melting process. According to a designated temperature set by a specialist, it usually heats up to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If overheating occurs, which is sometimes a concern, the heaters automatically shut themselves off and cooling fans turn on, as the molten plastic retains its optimum temperature by force alone.

After the plastic is completely molten, it enters a dense array of screens for the filtering portion of the plastic injection molding machine. The screens remove the liquid plastic of any flaws or contaminants that have entered it throughout shipment or handling. It falls through screens into the final part of the machine called the die, which shapes and manipulates the plastic into the mold that it has set, depending on the final product. Molds are often made of durable and expensive steel, though some companies opt for a cheaper alloy, which is less dependable.

 

There's a cooling process where the injection molded parts are placed into a bath-like holding center, and then shipped out to consumers everywhere. Plastic injection molding is far more important than you think, it's responsible for things as vital as hurricane shutters! And the whole thing takes just a few minutes brought to you by a trusted plastic company!

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