Compared to other materials, manufactured plastic components are relatively modern. Dating back to 1907, Leo Baekeland is known for creating the first synthetic plastic made from molecules not found in nature. Because modern plastic has only been around for roughly 100 years, there may be even more to learn about plastics and their incredible advantages. However, the future of this innovative material is especially bright. With that, here are four things you might not know about plastic components.
1. Plastic Components Can Be Stronger Than Metal
The strength of plastic has only been improving over the years. Certain types of plastics today have more strength and durability than steel. While this alone is astounding, plastics are also much cheaper than metals and can reduce the weight of parts by 50%. Lighter material means cheaper shipping costs and easier handling.
2. Plastic Components Have Incredible Design Freedom
Plastic components and molds allow greater design freedom for parts because they allow the addition of radii or soft edge areas that would require extra machining in metal parts. If extra machining had to be performed in a process other than plastic injection molding, that would result in extra production costs.
Another element of design freedom is the ability to create extremely detailed parts with complex geometry. Plastic injection molding is a strictly accurate type of manufacturing. As the plastic material is pushed into the mold under extremely high pressure, it fills the cavity and conforms to every-single intricate and detailed parts within the mold; the plasticate is pressed against the mold harder than in any other molding process.
3. Plastic Components Can Be Co-Injected
Co-injection is a polymer injection process in which different types of polymers are injected into the same mold, and the core material is completely encapsulated. The benefits of this process include:
- Reducing costs by using a cheaper fill material as the non-visible core of the product.
- Combining desired characteristics or mechanical properties of the polymers chosen such as colors, density, elasticity and so on.
- Reducing the energy usage due to a secondary plastic’s reduced melting point.
4. Plastic Components Can Be Molded Quickly
The plastic injection molding process reliably creates large volumes of high-quality, consistent units, all from a single mold. While setting up a machine can be time consuming, once the injection molds have been designed to specification and the presses are programmed, the molding process itself is incredibly fast compared to other molding methods.
The plastic injection molding process involves a high degree of automation which has significant savings in production costs. Many steps can be performed by the machines or robotics controlled by a single operator, which helps with increasing production output. A question that often arises is, “How fast can the parts be made?” It mainly depends on how many impressions are in the tool, but typically cycle times can run between 15 and 30 seconds.
The usage of plastic components in the past century has enabled society to make huge technological advances. They are used in such a wide range of applications because they are uniquely capable of offering different properties that offer benefits unsurpassed by other materials. To learn more about what plastics would be best used for your next product, refer to our blog Most Common Thermoplastics Used In Injection Molding, or contact the experts at Midstate Mold & Engineering.