Thermoset Injection Molding
Thermoset injection molding is an automated process transforming granular material into molded shapes that Rebling Plastics has been performing since the company’s inception. It typically is the most economical way to mold thermoset materials.
Thermosets are materials that cure through a chemical reaction activated by heat and pressure, thus forming a strong molecular bond. This molecular bonding enables thermoset materials to maintain their physical properties at elevated temperatures which is why they are used in applications such as electrical connector housings, automotive ashtrays, and cookware appliance handles and knobs.
The thermoset injection molding process begins by adding granular or pelletized material to a hopper. The material is gravity fed into a barrel and screw, which heats and moves the material toward the mold. The material is injected into a hot mold which has been clamped shut under enough force to keep the mold together while the material is forced into the cavity under high pressure. The plastic flows through a runner system in the mold to reach all the cavities. When the mold cavities are filled, the parts cure to a solid form. The mold then opens for part removal, and some parts simply drop into a box, while others are removed by hand or automated equipment.
Thermoset vs. Thermoplastic Injection Molding
Unlike thermoplastic injection moulding, cured thermosets cannot be reground and mixed with virgin material for reprocessing. In general, thermoset materials have a low viscosity, so when the material fills the mold cavity under pressure, some of the material will leak between the two halves of the mold typically at an area of the cavity where vents have been added to allow for gas and air escapement. This is called flash. While this problem can normally be prevented in thermoplastic injection molding by proper mold construction and processing parameters, flashing cannot be avoided in thermoset injection molding. Therefore, flash must be removed as a secondary operation. When possible, the parts are de-flashed in an automatic tumbling operation rather than hand de-flashing to save costs.
Cycle times are longer for thermoset materials than thermoplastic materials due to the chemical reaction and cure that takes place in the mold. Since thermosets are more abrasive than thermoplastics, Rebling Plastics considerable expertise in mold design (including choice of tool steels, heat treating and plating requirements), as well as mold maintenance, will ensure a long lasting productive mold life.
Thermoset injection molding equipment
Thermoset injection molding presses ranging from 80 to 200-ton clamping pressure. Having these types of presses allows to make different sized parts with the option of making multi-cavity molds. In addition to the presses, we also use a variety of auxiliary equipment to keep molding costs down. Robots and sprue pickers are used to remove parts and runners from the plastic molds. Removing flash from the parts by sandblasting or automated feeding and tumbling is only an advantage.