Injection molding is a manufacturing process that produces parts from plastic raw materials. Injection molded products are used in a wide variety of industries, including automotive, medical, and consumer products.
A common problem that can occur during injection molding is dimensional instability. In this blog post, we will discuss some important tips for resolving dimensional instability in injection molded parts.
Dimensional instability refers to the change in the size of plastic parts between each batch of molded products or between each cavity of molded products produced by each mold under the same injection molding machine and molding process conditions.
The variation in product size is caused by abnormal equipment control, unreasonable injection conditions, poor product design, and changes in material properties.
Inconsistent molding conditions or improper operation
When injection molding, the process parameters such as temperature, pressure, and time must be controlled strictly according to the process requirements, especially the molding cycle of each plastic part must be consistent, not arbitrary changes.
If the injection pressure is too low, the holding time is too short, the mold temperature is too low or uneven, the temperature at the barrel and nozzle is too high, and the cooling of the plastic part is not enough, it will lead to the unstable size of the plastic part.
In general, the use of higher injection pressure and injection speed, appropriately extending the mold filling and holding time, and improving the mold temperature and material temperature is conducive to overcoming the size instability failure.
If the size of the molded part is larger than the required size, the injection pressure and melt temperature should be reduced, the mold temperature should be increased, the mold filling time should be shortened, and the gate cross-sectional area should be reduced to increase the shrinkage rate of the molded part. If the size of the molded part is smaller than the required size, the opposite molding conditions should be adopted.
It is worth noting that the change in ambient temperature also has a certain influence on the fluctuation of molding size of plastic parts, and the process temperature of equipment and mold injection should be adjusted timely according to the change in the external environment.
Improper selection of molding materials
The shrinkage rate of molding raw materials has a great impact on the dimensional accuracy of plastic parts. If the precision of molding equipment and molds is high, but the shrinkage rate of molding raw materials is large, it is difficult to ensure the dimensional accuracy of plastic parts.
Generally speaking, the larger the shrinkage rate of molding materials, the more difficult it is to ensure the dimensional accuracy of plastic parts.
Therefore, the selection of molding resin must be fully considered after the shrinkage of raw materials molding on the impact of dimensional accuracy of plastic parts.
For the choice of raw materials, the shrinkage rate of the range of change can not be greater than the requirements of the dimensional accuracy of the plastic parts.
It should be noted that the shrinkage rate of various resins varies greatly and is analyzed according to the degree of crystallization of the resin.
Usually, the shrinkage rate of crystalline and semi-crystalline resins is larger than that of non-crystalline resins, the range of shrinkage variation is also larger, and the shrinkage rate generated after the injection molding process of the corresponding plastic parts fluctuates more.
For crystalline resin, high crystallinity, molecular volume reduction, the shrinkage of plastic parts is large, the size of resin spherical crystal also has an impact on the shrinkage rate, spherical crystal is small, the gap between molecules is small, the shrinkage of plastic parts is smaller, and the impact strength of plastic parts is higher.
In addition, if the molding raw materials of uneven particle size, poor drying, and uneven mixing of recycled materials and new materials, the performance of each batch of raw materials are different, which will also cause fluctuations in the molding size of plastic parts.
Improper product design or mold structure design
The structure design and manufacturing accuracy of the mold directly affects the dimensional accuracy of the plastic parts. In the molding process, if the rigidity of the mold is not enough or the molding pressure inside the mold cavity is too high, which makes the mold deformed, it will cause the unstable molding size of the plastic parts.
If the clearance between the guide pillar and guide bush of the mold is poor due to poor manufacturing accuracy or too much wear and tear, it will also make the molding dimensional accuracy of the plastic parts decrease.
If there is hard filler or glass or carbon fiber reinforced material in the molding raw material which leads to serious wear of the mold cavity, or when using a mold with multiple cavities, there are errors between the cavities and gates, runners, and other errors and poor balance of the inlet and other reasons to produce inconsistent mold filling will also cause size fluctuations.
Therefore, the design of the mold should design sufficient mold strength and rigidity, strict control of processing accuracy, mold cavity material should use wear-resistant materials, cavity surface heat treatment, and cold hardening treatment is best.
When the dimensional accuracy of the plastic part is very high, it is better not to adopt the structure form of one mold with multiple cavities, otherwise, to ensure the molding accuracy of the plastic part, a series of auxiliary devices must be set on the mold to ensure the accuracy of the mold, which leads to the high production cost of the mold.
When the plastic part has the error of partial thickness, it is often also caused by mold failure. If the wall thickness of the injection molding plastic part under the condition of one mold and one cavity produces deviated thickness error, it is generally due to the installation error of the mold and poor positioning which causes the relative position of the mold cavity and the core to be shifted.
At this time, for those mold wall thickness size requirements are very accurate plastic parts, can not rely only on the guide pillar and guide bush to position, must add other positioning devices;
If the deviation thickness error is produced under the condition of multiple cavities in one mold, in general, the error is small at the beginning of molding, but the error gradually becomes larger after the continuous operation, which is mainly caused by the error between the mold cavity and the core, especially when using hot runner mold molding is most likely to produce this phenomenon.
In this regard, a double cooling circuit with a small temperature difference can be set in the mold. In the case of forming thin-walled round containers, a floating core can be used, but the core and cavity must be concentric.
In addition, in the production of the mold, to facilitate the repair of the mold, it is always customary to make the cavity smaller than the required size, and the core to make larger than the required size, leaving a certain amount of repair allowance.
When the inner diameter of the molding hole is smaller than the outer diameter, the core pin should be made larger, which is due to the shrinkage of the injection molding hole being always larger than other parts, and shrinkage in the direction of the hole’s center. On the contrary, if the inner diameter of the molding hole is close to the outer diameter, the core pin can be made smaller.
If the plasticizing capacity of the molding equipment is insufficient, the feeding system is unstable, the rotational speed of the screw is unstable, the stopping action is out of order, the check valve of the hydraulic system is out of order, the thermocouple of the temperature control system is burnt out, the heater is disconnected, etc., it will lead to the unstable injection molding size of plastic parts. These faults can be eliminated by taking targeted measures as long as they are identified.
Inconsistent test methods or conditions
If the method, time, and temperature of measuring the size of plastic parts are different, the measured size will be very different. The temperature conditions have the greatest impact on the test because the coefficient of thermal expansion of plastics is about 10 times higher than that of metals.
Consequently, the structural dimensions of the plastic part must be determined using the standard method and temperature conditions, and the part must be sufficiently cooled and set before measurement. Generally, the dimensional changes of plastic parts are significant within 10 hours of demoulding, and only after 24 hours are they set.