Why You Need Process Validation for Quality Injection Molded Components

Process validation is the process in which objective evidence is established that a process consistently produces a result or product meeting its predetermined specifications.   If a manufacturer cannot provide this evidence, the results can be disastrous by costing the customer thousands of dollars, increase the risk of product failure and recall and potential loss of market share.  

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2016 Resin Raw Material Predictions for Plastic Injection Molding

In January 2016, Plastics Technology published an article, “All Quite on the Resin Pricing Front-But Watch Out for PP”, written by Lilli Manolis Sherman, Senior Editor which discusses resin pricing heading into 2016. This article reviews the factors like feedstock costs, supply and demand, which affect resin raw material pricing. Some overview of the article is written below, click on the link to read the full article. The information covers raw materials: Polyethyene, Polypropylene, Polystyrene, PVC, ABS, Polycarbonate and Nylons 6 & 66.

PE (Polyethylene) prices were flat in November and were expected to remain so in December despite PE suppliers’ third attempt to push through a 5¢/lb price increase. Industry sources agree that suppliers can be expected to continue to pursue increases in the first and second quarters if the opportunity presents itself.     Looking ahead Mike Burns, VP of Clients Services for PE at RTi noted that while strong domestic demand is typically a driver for price increases, weak global feedstock prices, soft global demand and improving supplier inventories will prevent this.

PP (Polypropylene) prices have moved up for 3 straight months, this price movement in the fourth quarter signaled a reversal in PP pricing which had been on a decline through the first three quarters in 2015. “Demand is still strong, operating rates are high, and, the industry is close to running out of resin,” said Scott Newell, RTi’s director of client services for PP.

PS (Polystyrene) - Mark Kallman, RTi’s VP of Client Services for Engineering Resins, PS and PVC stated that PS prices are likely to firm up in this first quarter due to anticipated upward pressure from benzene, as that market has gone from an oversupply to a much more balanced scenario.

PVC domestic demand is not great, but at the same time Asia is oversupplied.   Kallman expects the first quarter to be a very busy with a host of ethylene cracker turnarounds which always serves to tighten the market and boost feedstock prices.   Kallman said a stronger domestic construction market is largely expected for 2016 but pricing will depend a lot on the global PVC market situation.

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Purpose of Insert Molding for Plastic Components & Devices

Insert molding is a manufacturing process that uses advanced injection molding technology to combine thermoplastic and metal components into diverse finished parts. This process has transformed modern-day manufacturing.

The automated machines of today place various metal inserts into specially designed molds. These molds are surrounded with thermoplastics in order to create a custom product.  This enhanced efficiency creates insert molding that is used today to manufacture products for a wide range of applications. Some of these applications include: 

  • Medical
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Defense
  • Safety 
  • Aerospace 
  • Electronic and
  • Consumer industries

 The insert molding process is used for low to high volume production runs.

Convenience and Capability Produce Metal Inserts

This insert molded part can be inserted into the mold automatically - or by hand. The moment this plastic gets injected into the mold, it begins to fill in the features around the insert. This creates an assembled and  incorporated component that is immediately ready for use.

The insert molding process also causes these components to be more tightly secured within the plastic resin. It also helps to strengthen the part's reliability. Another benefit - resistance to vibration and shock.

Once automated for this process - machines insert the metal parts into the specially designed molds. Then they wrap the inserts with thermoplastics which create the custom product.

In-house insert productions mean that outside vendors are no longer required. This saves both time and cost. Deciding to outsource insert production means needing to make certain you choose a manufacturer with ISO and ITAR certifications. This is required for verification of proper monitoring, and for the highest quality product possible.

Why Insert Molding for Plastic Components

Insert Molding combines metal and plastics. It provides multiple combinations of materials and components into a single unit. This process also makes use of engineering plastics for improved wear resistance. It also provides tensile strength and weight reduction. It uses metallic materials for both strength and conductivity.  

Insert molding also  reduces assembly and labor costs. It reduces the size and weight of the part, while improving component reliability. Insert molding delivers improved part strength and structure with enhanced design and flexibility. 

Injection Molding Insert Uses 

The variety of inserts that can be molded into plastic components include:

  • Screws
  • Studs 
  • Contacts 
  • Clips
  • Spring contacts 
  • Pins
  • Surface mount pads 
  • Rivets
  • Threaded fasteners 
  • Bushings 
  • Tubes 
  • A diversity of magnets

These are all made from  materials such as brass, stainless steel, bronze, aluminum, copper, Monel™ and nickel/nickel alloy. 

Insert molding components can be used in housings, instruments, knobs, devices and electrical components. This creates a wide variety of applications in the medical, defense, aerospace, electronics/electrical, industrial and consumer markets.

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Understand the Factors Affecting the Injection Molding Process

The rise of the digital and technological era of today has given way to countless breakthroughs that make the injection molding process far more effective and predictable.

Anytime our industry experts apply both knowledge and experience from decades of delivering the highest-quality injection molding services and processes available in the world today - you discover the highest possible quality for designs, processes and approaches.

The plastic injection molding process has continued to move forward. There are six major factors that remain critical to the plastic injection molding process.

These include:

  • 1) Barrel Temperatures

  • 2) Plastic Flow Rates

  • 3) Plastic Pressure or "Screw Back" Pressure

  • 4) Nozzle Temperatures

  • 5) Plastic Cooling Rates and Times

  • 6) Plastic Melt Temperatures

1) Barrel and Nozzle Temperatures

Barrel and nozzle temperatures are both directly related to the process of plasticizing while directly affecting the flow-ability of the plastics being moved throughout the mold. The actual mold temperature is directly connected to the ability of the plastic to flow smoothly through as well as cool down during the plastic injection molding process.

This reality means that barrel temperatures need to be considered very carefully. Because of this - the temperatures are accurately set between melting points and thermo-decomposition temperatures.

Anytime these temperatures are set too high -  overflow and flash are the result.  When too low temperatures cause melt lines, slowing of flow, unfilled parts and even ripples in the product.

2) Plastic Flow Rates

The flow rates for plastic injection molding need to support the ability of the heated plastic to be injected as fast as possible into the cavity until it is at least 95 to 99 percent full.

These flow rates determine viscosity of the plastic as it flows into the mold cavity. Anytime the hold pressures are too high - the result is both overflow and flash. Yet if the pressure is too low - you will have void problems.

With the plastic pressure settings it is common and important for the packing of parts to finish filling while adding just enough plastic to compensate for any shrinkage. Pressure needs must be established in order to give the part the needed cosmetic look and size. 

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Benefits of a Single Source Solution for Your Injection Molded Project

Single source procurement can be a smart, strategic decision, especially when it comes to complex manufacturing such as injection molding. By working with one company, you have the opportunity to develop a long-term working partnership that delivers multiple benefits.

With a single-source solution, you don’t have to make outside arrangements to deal with your parts once they’ve been produced, because your injection molding company can handle every phase of your project from concept through completion. That includes assembly, packaging and other post-molding operations. These value-added services underscore a commitment to your entire project.

Expertise and Insight

Engineers who have extensive experience with plastic tooling and injection molding can:

  • Serve as your design team or augment your in-house staff.  
  • Offer insight and recommendations based on their own experience, especially when it comes to perfecting the initial design. They combine their engineering skills with creative talent to understand what you want to achieve and identify the best design to accomplish that. They know the industry best practices as well as design principles, and they work with injection molding every day, so they know precisely what it takes to give you superior results.
  • Help you look at the part design from a manufacturability standpoint, as well as a functional standpoint, so your components meet both structural and usage requirements. That’s critical, because flawed design produces flawed parts.
  • Help you choose and specify the proper materials. That’s not always obvious, because some materials might be better for manufacturing, but not the best choice for your application.
  • Handle the quality certifications and procedures your project requires.

Mold building is just as important as part design. A single-source company ensures your mold builder has the same level of injection molding expertise as your design team. They will use a series of complex simulations to assess manufacturing variables that affect component quality and durability – things like wall thickness, draft and surface finish, optimum materials and, of course, cost. That way, you get the most effective and most cost-effective tool for your injection molding job.

And because the mold designer can also predict which parts of the mold are likely to wear out, they can pre-build spare parts. Planning and working ahead, protects the ongoing production quality and efficiency.

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