How Injection Molding Directly Effects Our Society Today

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Not much is known by the majority of the population when it comes to things like injection molding. I have recently been delving into the subject and have come up with a number of things to spark my interest and the interest of my fellow students. Being able to research something that helps to create literally hundreds of things that we as modern humans have grown dependent on has been such an experience. The injection molding process has fascinated me from start to finish.

The process itself is incredible to watch work, and the years of inventive thought that it took to get to the spot that the industry is in today is inspiring, to say the least. It simply isn't fair to forget about the ideas and people that allow us to live the comfortable lives we live today. Though we don't realize it, these creative and ingenious improvements on our life have enabled us to industrialize and expand.

In the future, I intend to write essays in length about the process, but for now I think a simple overview is in order. This is to ease you into the injection molding process, so that you don't get too quickly confused or overloaded. Injection molding (unlike the name implies) is not actually a complicated thing to do. With the help of a machine and a number of trained specialists, thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic is heated to a liquid, and then shaped to a specified product.

One of my favorite parts of the injection molding process (and really the first thing that I began with when researching the subject) is its history. Throughout the entirety of the 1800's and 1900's, bright and driven people have committed to making the injection molding process easier for everyone involved (including the consumers)! Synthetic (man-made) plastic material was first conceived by Alexander Parkes (Britain, 1851). He called the material Parkesine, and as sometimes happens when coming up with a new material, it turned out to be far from perfect.

To begin with, Parkesine was too expensive to realistically buy in mass quantity. Only the really wealthy could even think about purchasing something made out of the material. However, if they managed to do that, they would probably not be satisfied with their purchases for long, as the Parkesine turned out to be weak, and was always cracking or breaking entirely. To top it all off, Parkesine was extremely flammable, and therefore was scarily dangerous to those in contact with it in dry areas; fortunately, in 1868, American John Wesley Hyatt expanded on Parkes' work.

Hyatt's gave his plastic the title "celluloid," and it was an improvement in the sense that it was safer, more durable, and much less expensive. Injection molded products were more easily manipulated, thus allowing such a vast variety of products. In 1972, following his announcement of celluloid by four years, John and his brother Isaiah Hyatt joined forces to formulate the world's first injection molding machine. Plastic could now be easily shaped with the help of simple machinery (comparing to the sort of injection molding machines we use nowadays).

Just like that, with the uncovering of the injection molding machine, demands on the industry shot to ridiculous new heights. Improvements on the machine, and the process in general, were continually being thought up. The industry was really on the rise, and Hyatts' machines (as well as different varieties of them) were creating all sorts of new products everywhere from buttons to hair combs. It was an amazing growth for both producers and consumers alike!

When the 1940's came around, and the World War II fever began to settle in, the demand for plastic products and byproducts surpassed anything the industry had known. Suddenly the machines weren't enough, it was hardly possible to cater to such a large population with such huge demands. However, in 1945, James Watson Hendry initiated the very first screw injection molding machine, and it revolutionized what we know about the process. No other machine of this kind had used a screw to facilitate the process, and specialists found that they had more control of the speed of injection, allowing more product!

Since the screw introduced mixing the plastic, it was soon realized how to make this even more of an advantage! By adding different colorants to the plastic mixtures, a huge assortment of products was now open for creation. This inventive machine (and improved types of it) is still widely used throughout most companies utilizing injection molding. Hendry, thirty years later, released an injection molding machine that employed gas which helped lower cost, time, and waste.

In retrospect, it really was a long road to get to the kind of injection molding that those in the field today are familiar with. Plastic products did not come as easy as we seem to buy them now, and plastic companies have been forever trying to improve and cater to our needs. It's important to sometimes step back and appreciate those who help to create things as taken for granted as bottle caps and and car dashboards.

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