Everything You Wanted to Know About Plastic Injection Mold
Global plastic injection mold manufacturing is growing into a $233 billion industry by 2023. Injection molding includes all parts that are produced from injecting liquid materials that then harden inside a mold. This is a process that many are familiar with in plastics and composite products.
Metal and glass are also used in injection molding to mass-produce art and furniture, too. All materials start out granulated, broken down into small pieces, then heated to their melting point to pour into a mold. The mold formed is a negative imprint of the shape desired.
This negative might represent the final product or the impression of a master mold. Depending on the material, the heating and cooling process can happen over a span of minutes or hours.
Applications of Injection Molding
Molding can be completely mechanized and hence allows high rates of assembly. You can mass-produce parts in all respects successfully through infusion molding forms. This allows the creation of intricate and premium quality parts.
With an engineering contractor or an in-house division to make sound decisions, everything moves faster from conception to production. Parts are prepared for and created by means of infusion molding, there is next to no readjustment work necessary. Parts turn out as faithful replications of the blueprint designs.
You can utilize an assortment of materials in molding with this level of accuracy. Multiple materials can work in unison to achieve unique material properties in products. The mix of more than one material (ordinarily two unique materials) is known as a co-injection.
Normally, there is almost no loss amid injecting, as extra material can be effectively repurposed for new molds.
You can also modify the molds to make new parts. This enables you to change the inside depression without having to totally update and re-machine the aluminum or steel tooling by means of CNC. Technology is even progressing to the point where you can print molds for tools from a 3D printer.
Injection molding at-home is closer to a reality, which is a huge win for small businesses. For now, though, the only reliable tool life will come from industrial injection molding. The material used in the molding dictates the lifespan due to the constant exposure to high temperatures.
This is one of the major downsides to injection molding. The cost to maintain expensive toolings is an obstacle for many startups.
Plastic Injection Mold Leaders
Plastic is the biggest segment of the injection molding market throughout the world. The United States is partnered with a number of injection molding firms, while Asia commands most of the market growth at around 30%. They’re projected to reach over $3.7 billion in growth by 2025, according to the last comprehensive report.
The automotive industry continues to expand its need for plastic injection molding. It was last valued at around $5 billion in market cap, with no expected slowdown in sight. This is partly due to the overwhelming demand for electric efficiency in EVs.
Injection mold equipment is becoming more sophisticated and more precise. This is readily apparent in the electronics, packaging, and medical industries. Injection molding careers are booming in all three industries, as large-scale operations become more automated.
Part of the reason why injection molding is so successful is that the alternatives aren’t comparable. They can’t keep up with the massive scale and demand required in today’s world. Speed, scale, and consistency are three areas that leave little room for compromise.
Take, for example, 3D printers. These machines have made major headway in the last decade in the above categories. They still have a ways to go to compete with injection molding in both cost and speed.
Spin casting offers a cheaper alternative to 3D printing, the speed isn’t there, though. This process requires a prototype mold to create a rubber mold, which then captures the injected material via centrifugal force.
The rubber molds have longevity issues, which is the tradeoff for a lower upfront cost required for injection molds. For smaller productions, spin casting is a realistic solution. For larger productions without a strict deadline, 3D printing is viable.
Injection Molding Future
Machine tooling continues to improve, as does efficiency from improved automation. On the horizon, we are seeing niche injection molding tasks, such as micro-molding. Micro-molding involves making parts for very small products at high volumes with low waste.
More products are also incorporating RFID chips into the injection molds. This process has become seamless and cost-efficient. The RFID tags are invisible and small enough for injection with the liquid materials.
Lastly, there is PIMT, also known as Printed Injection Mold Tooling. With PIMT, manufacturers are able to make modifications to steel tooling with small inserts. These inserts can modify injection molding for prototype phases.
PIMT is useful for short test runs only, as the inserts will warp and deform after repeated exposure to high temperatures. It’s still very cost-efficient and a great way to reduce the time between concept and full production.
Plastic injection molding has been a staple of manufacturing for the better part of the last 100 years. It has opened doors for creativity, longevity, accessibility, and profitability. The process itself is deceptively simple, but there’s a lot of science and engineering involved.
If you’d like to learn more about how injection molding for your business, you’re in the right place. At Nova, we produce some of the best products for a wide range of clients. We understand that quality and quantity are both important for orders big or small.
Request a free quote from us today and see how easy it is to get production rolling.