Injection mold maintenance means performing cleanings and inspections after a set amount of time or cycles to extend the working life of an injection mold. Preventative mold maintenance is critical in protecting your asset and ensuring it keeps producing quality parts.
1. Reducing “total cost of ownership” for the project
Ignoring preventative mold maintenance and waiting for your injection mold to break down, will quickly become serious and costly. Repairs result in expense, lost production time, and reduced part quality. When purchasing new injection molds, include preventative mold maintenance to protect your investment and your total cost of ownership for the life of your product.
One of the more common injection mold problems comes from water leaks. These occur around the static seals or where dissimilar metals contact. Companies often wait and band-aid the water leaks, until they stop producing quality parts or it breaks down. These repairs end up more costly in the long run because of the unscheduled production downtime and the increased damage to the mold.
2. Maintain Plastic Part Quality
The injection mold condition directly affects the quality of a plastic component. Out-of-spec products caused by a variety of issues that include residual material left in the mold, rust, cracks, or other mold damage result in rejects. In a world that depends on quick turnaround times for parts, preventative maintenance takes a back seat. Neglecting maintenance leads to defects and production of inferior parts, or worse, early retirement of a mold.
3. Documented Mold Maintenance Schedules are a Must
Regularly scheduled maintenance of cleanings and inspections needs to occur after the mold runs a set number of cycles. Cleaning and maintenance details are critically important to record. The documentation enables molders to establish standard instructions for mold cleaning, maintenance, and even repair. This documentation shows specific instructions for maintaining the tools like cleaning agents to use, and procedures to follow for each mold.
Your injection molder should be the best qualified to determine the proper mold maintenance schedule because it can be at different rates for each tool. The different rates occur because of specific project details. Details include resin raw material, production environment, type of product, and annual production volumes.
4. Injection Mold Production Environment
Moisture, extreme temperatures, and pressure take their unique toll on a tool. Rust erodes steel, and injection molds are not immune to this, especially when working 24/7 under heat, pressure, water, and of course, exposure to oxygen. Rust takes no time at all to eat away at a mold. A regularly scheduled cleaning to remove rust is necessary, to avoid the mold-breaking down or producing out-of-spec parts.
5. Basic Injection Mold Maintenance Steps
Not only is preventative mold maintenance necessary, but also performing the correct tasks. Basic preventative maintenance steps keep your tool producing parts, see list below.
- Inspect all aspects of the injection mold, including runners, cavities, gates, plates, and sprues regularly for early identification of potential problems.
- Use compressed air to remove any unwanted materials such as dust from the mold.
- Clean all mold components using a non-toxic solvent. Reference the article, Injection Mold Tooling Cleaning Technologies.
- Add lubrication, and in most cases, rust preventative to the injection mold.
- Look over hot runners and water lines for potential issues since these are often the cause of mold performance problems. Water lines should be flushed and drained to remove unwanted moisture.
- When storing an injection mold, the mold needs to be completely dry. Plates should be separated, the system properly cleaned and lubricated, and components, such as pins, or springs, tightened or replaced. Ensuring the mold returns to service quickly when needed.
At Crescent Industries, we want to help extend the life your injection mold for as long as possible. For all new injection molds fabricated by Crescent, we establish a documented preventative mold maintenance schedule. One way, Crescent offers continuous quality plastic components for the life of your program.