Custom injection molds are critical assets for your plastic components. They represent a major investment. They have to produce consistently precise components reliably. Regular injection mold maintenance is a simple, effective way to protect your investment and assure product quality, minimize downtime, and reduce total cost of ownership.
Why injection mold maintenance is so important
Like all equipment, injection molds require maintenance at some point in order to continue functioning properly. Many products manufactured using the plastic injection process require precise tolerances, so even the slightest change can ruin entire batches of components. Regular maintenance and cleaning improves shot quality, which ensures consistent component quality. Lack of proper maintenance can significantly affect cycle timing as well as part conformance.
Repairing custom injection molds can be costly. The unplanned downtime associated with breakdowns is also costly and frustrating for customers who depend on product quality. The best way to avoid these costs is to implement a regular inspection and maintenance program that keeps molds in top condition and detects any potential problems early. Lack of attention simply increases the risk of damage to valuable molds.
Develop a preventive maintenance schedule for each mold
When and how injection mold maintenance is performed matters. Maintenance schedules are based on a set number of cycles. However, all molds do not age at the same rate. Scheduling also depends on:
- Environmental factors such as exposure to moisture, pressure and/or extreme temperatures
- Mold material – steel injection molds can be susceptible to rust, especially if they are working continuously under conditions that expose the mold to pressure, high heat, water and oxygen
- Resin material – using more abrasive materials will require more frequent maintenance
- Cavities -- the type of product being manufactured
These individual details make careful documentation especially important. An effective maintenance schedule includes four steps:
Water leaks are a common problem with some injection molds, so it is especially important to check water lines and hot runners. Leaks can occur where there is contact between different metals or around static seals.
On occasion, injection molds require repairs or revisions. As a single-source solution for everything related to custom injection mold design and maintenance, Crescent Industries maintains an on-site tooling facility. That ensures fast service for repairs or revisions. Efficiency protects your investment by keeping custom injection molds working.
Every part of the mold should be cleaned, tightened and lubricated. Steel molds must be thoroughly dried and cooled, and then a rust prevention spray should be applied.
Injection molds are often cleaned using an ultrasonic process. Molds are immersed in a liquid solution maintained at 170o. Then, high-frequency electrical energy is used to vibrate the bottom and sides of the bath, creating microscopic bubbles that scrub the mold powerfully yet gently. Sometimes dry ice blasting is used instead to clean injection molds. This can be done without removing the mold from the press or waiting until it has cooled.
Because each injection mold requires unique maintenance procedures and timing, it is important to keep detailed records of when work was performed, what was done and any issues detected. Documentation should also note any repairs made. Using specialized mold maintenance software makes it easier to create step-by-step, visual record-keeping. This software helps standardize processes for injection mold cleaning, maintenance and repairs, including specifying which tools and cleaning agents to use.
Crescent Industries can advise as to the best maintenance program for each custom mold and provide electronically documented preventive maintenance programs for all injection molds.
By implementing a preventive injection mold maintenance program, manufacturers can save time and money and ensure essential product quality. That protects company reputation as well as your investment in custom injection mold tooling, and provides the lowest possible total cost of ownership.