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Injection molding produces parts by forcing molten plastic into a mold where it cools and hardens. Granular plastic is fed by gravity from a hopper into a heated barrel. As the granules are moved forward by a screw-type plunger, the plastic is forced into a heating chamber, where it is melted. As the plunger advances further, the melted plastic is forced through a nozzle into the mold cavity. The mold remains relatively cold so the plastic solidifies almost as soon as the mold is filled. Custom steel tooling is required and adds to the initial cost but is quickly amortized.
Injection molding provides low cost at moderate to large quantities. This method of making plastic parts is an extremely versatile process for producing a wide range of parts with an excellent finish. Almost any 2D or 3D shape can be achieved. However draft is required in most cases as the shape must allow ejection from the mold. Side holes and even threaded holes are possible though they complicate the tooling.
Examples of parts made by molding include: Gears, Enclosures, Brackets, Robot Parts, Washers, Front Panels, Motorcycle Parts, Auto Parts, Toy Parts, Knobs, Pulleys, packaging, appliance parts, power tool components, electronic enclosures and valves.
Cost reduction options include:
The following terms are commonly used for this manufacturing process:
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