Injection molding is one of the most common manufacturing methods in the manufacturing space. Injection molding is a typical manufacturing process for producing plastic parts by heating injected molten materials and cooling them into a solidified state.
However, the traditional way of injection molding has flaws, such as low productivity and efficiency, poor quality, and reduced consistency.
The scientific method of injection molding emerged to maximize productivity and reduce waste. This approach encompasses all the parts of injection, from planning and setup to optimization and monitoring. This blog will discuss scientific molding, its benefits, and its steps.
What is Scientific Molding?
Scientific molding or decoupled molding is a computerized approach used to optimize the manufacturing process in injection molding. This engineering method uses data analysis, unique molding equipment, software, and peculiar control techniques to enhance the quality and consistency of the products.
Additionally, it reduces production costs, minimizes scrap, and achieves faster times. It is more advanced than the traditional method of injection molding.
Scientific molding is effective because it treats each manufacturing process or stage independently to reduce pressure and temperature fluctuations. Based on the obtained data from the software, engineers can rework production by establishing fill rates, heating and cooling temperatures, pressure, etc.
This is where it differs from the traditional method, which is entirely based on “trial and error.” Traditional injection molding entails filling the mold with a single shot up to a particular capacity at a constant pressure. Then the machine moves to pressure control, filling the mold to complete the process.
The process is time-consuming, and you cannot control the parts’ specifications. Additionally, you don’t have control over the shot consistency. There are born to be variations in dimensions when producing many parts. This is because the production is based on guesswork and not data.
As a result, the finish will be inconsistent. The scientific process establishes each variable to maintain consistency and precision during production.
There’s better shot consistency and control over the dimensions. Above all, you can effectively monitor the entire process to guarantee the best finish.
Summarily, scientific molding improves process control by employing a data-driven approach to control the process. By understanding the material properties and machine capabilities, you can optimize the process and have tighter control over the entire process.
Scientific molding aims to produce repeatable results with a reduced variation and optimize dimensions for a molded part.
Variations and machine variables can hinder traditional injection molding, resulting in inconsistent quality. This scientific approach addresses these inconsistencies through data analysis and statistical process control.
Benefits of Scientific Molding
It is tough to produce mechanical parts without scientific molding. This approach, enabled by technology and principles, has achieved more efficiency in faster times and improved the quality of products. Below are more benefits of scientific molding.
1. Increased Precision and Consistency
The scientific method of injection molding allows for proper documentation and data analysis. It lets you set out a process on all machine dimensions for precise and consistent results.
This documentation is enabled through a collaboration between product designers and molders, who help to optimize the part design in the early stages of manufacturability.
You can make molded parts with minimal variations or failures with proper documentation, data analysis, and benchmarking.
2. Improved Quality Control and Reduced Defects
Scientific molding provides up to 10x more control than traditional molding. It is data-driven, enabling you to study the material behavior, capabilities, mold design, and parameters before production.
You can troubleshoot issues and correct defects like Warpage and short shots before returning to the documentation. This enables you to produce quality and consistent parts, saving a significant amount of time and materials.
3. Faster Time to Market
Scientific molding, enabled by technology, produces repeatable, high-quality outcomes with minimal setup. The robust process analyzes and optimizes molding to achieve an efficient production cycle.
As a result, cycle times are minimized to maximize productivity. The products are delivered to the market faster without compromising quality.
4. Reduced Costs and Waste
Repeatable and consistent results lead to profitability. Because each parameter is carefully planned through data analysis and statistical process control, parts produced over time remain consistent and within the desired specifications.
Lacking a repeatable molding process can affect dimensional margins, leading to low-quality parts.
Scientific molding may need you to invest in equipment, training, and analysis. However, it can result in significant cost savings over time due to its optimized process.
By identifying, separating, and correcting defects before the final production, you’re eliminating unnecessary delays. Overall, this maximizes profits and produces defect-free parts.
Scientific molding offers many advantages, but it may application-specific. It is best for producing large and complex volumes of parts. Low-volume projects can still make use of the traditional approach.
Steps to Scientific Molding
While this thorough approach utilizes scientific principles, software/technology, data analysis, and process control techniques, the process is peculiar to each application. Generally, the process is divided into the following vital steps that you can use to execute it.
1. Review and Recommendations
The process starts with choosing the right material for the intended part. This is a delicate process that many scientific molders fail at because they don’t consider the properties before molding. Factors like flow, temperature, pressure, cooling time, and material characteristics are considered.
You must resolve these complexities by understanding these plastic variables before appropriately implementing the scientific molding process.
2. Designing and Tooling
It entails establishing the mold design (the plastic part and the tool) based on the part’s specifics. During this stage, you must consider the gate placement and ejection mechanisms. Designing should suit the molding sensors.
3. First Iteration
The first variation of the tool is constructed based on the specifications.
4. Establish a Process
Here, the process parameters are set out by hypothesizing and conducting design experiments to test variables. The engineers establish the variables for melt temperature, injection speed, packing pressure, cooling time, and cycle time. The aim is to obtain the optimal settings to produce consistent and high-quality parts.
5. Full-Scale Production and Monitoring
Once the process is established, full-scale production begins. Here, many sensors and monitoring systems are in place to track the variables. This data will help you identify any deviation and quickly address it.
6. Maintenance and Adjustment
According to the collected data, you can adjust the parameters to optimize molding and improve the quality. Process control techniques like closed-loop are implemented to change the variables to maintain consistency in dimensions and part characteristics.
7. Quality Checks
Quality inspections like visual and functional tests ensure that the molded parts meet the requirements and specifications.
8. Further Improvement
The scientific approach to injection molding is an iterative process that needs continual improvement. What you have learned from each production stage will be applied to further production to ensure better quality and minimize variability.
Tools and Equipment for Scientific Molding
There are specific tools and equipment used in the scientific molding process. These tools optimize functionality, monitor variables and the production process, and ensure quality testing. The following are commonly used tools and pieces of equipment for scientific molding:
1. Molding Machine
It is a precision molding machine that controls and monitors pressure variables, temperature, speed, and cooling time. It is core equipment in this data-driven approach.
Mold is another crucial component in injection molding. It comprises the cavity and core to form the shape of the final part. The mold should be constructed to suit the temperature and pressure sensors.
3. Temperature Controllers
As the name implies, they are devices that monitor the temperature of all parts of the molding machine. They regulate temperature during the molding process, ensuring precision and consistency.
They ensure that the molded parts are properly solidified and stable in the cooling phase at a consistent and accurate temperature.
4. Pressure Transducers
These devices determine the pressure level in the mold cavity and injection machine. The cavity pressure readings display the pressure inside the tool.
You can visualize the material’s behavior and see what’s happening to the plastic. They offer insight into optimizing the pressure and maintaining consistency in production.
5. Flow Meters
Flow meters are devices for monitoring the flow rate of the molten material in the cavity. It optimizes the injection speed and maintains uniform filling.
6. Rheology Instrument
Rheology instruments are measuring devices that ascertain the plastic’s flow behavior, injection speed, and viscosity level. This device is also known as a viscosity measurement instrument. It helps in choosing the ideal processing parameters.
7. Velocity Profiling
This equipment pinpoints the fastest fill rate you can use without causing significant defects.
8. Data Acquisition Systems
They collect, record, and examine data from many sensors and instruments in real time. Based on the collected data, you can correct issues to maintain consistent and repeatable part designs.
9. Gate Seal
The gate seal records the actual mold parameters. Once recorded, you can use the parameters as a template to replicate the process when making other machines.
10. Metrology Tools
This equipment includes coordinate measuring machines, micrometers, and inspection systems. They measure and verify the dimensions and quality of the part’s design.
11. Design of Experiment and Statistical Process Control Software
DoE and SPC software analyzes the data collected during molding. It helps you to visualize trends, identify process variations, and troubleshoot production issues. It allows you to take corrective actions across all variables, enabling faster production and quality part.
Why Scientific Molding Requires Specialized Engineers
Scientific molding is a specialized and thorough process that requires expertise. As a result, you need to have the necessary scientific molding certifications.
For example, Kemal scientific molding experts hold RJG certifications in scientific molding. You can trust us to manufacture efficient parts with fewer defects while minimizing production costs.
Engineers that specialize in scientific molding oversee fundamental aspects of the project, but it goes beyond using molding sensors and software. It’s about understanding when to optimize the production process. That level of knowledge needs a comprehension of what’s happening in the tool.
Therefore, you must be thoroughly proficient at interpreting data to identify and address deviations. You must also be adept at knowing when to set out a new process for production.
There are many benefits to implementing scientific molding in the injection molding processes, such as faster time to market, more profitability and reduced production costs, increased precision, consistency in production, and reduced effects.
The scientific approach is a process that has improved efficiency compared to the traditional method. As a result, manufacturers should incorporate this approach when producing parts in massive quantities. This approach can help manufacturers compete on a global scale.
If you need a reliable molding service supplier, Kemal is at your service. Not only do we have the facilities and equipment to enable the scientific molding process, but have the expertise and training.
Our engineers have the skills to carry out the molding process, interpret the documentation, and troubleshoot various issues.
By working with us, we can identify opportunities for design improvements before the final production. This will help you save significantly in materials and still produce superior design parts.
Would you like to know more about our scientific molding injection approach? Reach out to us today to help you intelligently design your molds.