Plastic injection moulding is responsible for a countless number of components that we see and use on a daily basis. The industry has made many technological advances over the years to further enhance the finishes of the components it creates. Without plastic injection moulding, many of the inventions and gadgets that you use today, may not be here.
Plastic injection moulding is the process of manufacturing plastic components. For most of our jobs here at B&C we have an average lead time of 2 – 3 weeks. This allows us time to allocate the manufacture of your component to a specific machine, order the material and manufacture. The minimum order quantity varies between our customers dependent on a number of variables and B&C have no set maximum order quantities. Rest assured that no matter how many plastic injection moulded components you order, we will always put the quality of the component first because quality lasts. B&C also have the capability to label and assemble your plastic component/s as additional extras if you choose.
It all starts with plastic granules or pellets which are very tiny. The raw material is often white and colour is added through a mixing process with a small amount of coloured material. The material is dried to reduce the moisture and is then fed into a hopper which sits on top of the machine. The granules are then fed through a reciprocating screw and heater bands. This process melts the plastic and pushes the material through the nozzle by constantly rotating. The next step for plastic injection moulding is the injection of the molten plastic into an empty space within the injection mould. This space is known as the cavity. The plastic is given a short period of time to solidify in the cavity before the moving half of the mould pulls away and the plastic component is ejected. This process can be repeated thousands, even millions of times. The creation of plastic injection moulded parts has remained very similar for many years however, it is the technological advances surrounding the actual process that have made incredible advances.
Injection moulding was invented to solve a problem with billiards. In the 19th century billiard balls were made of ivory, harvested from the tusks of African elephants. This devastated the elephant population so a company offered a $10, 000 prize to find an alternative to Ivory. Leo Hendrik Baekeland won this prize for creating what he called Bakelite in 1907. Leo created the very first plastic which was based on a synthetic polymer, made from phenol and formaldehyde. The scientific name for this plastic is polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride. Try saying that without getting tongue tied! Leo’s invention was the beginning of a revolutionary market for plastic based consumables.
Plastic injection moulding machines have the ability to utilise a number of robots to assist in faster production and packaging times. These robots can cost anywhere between $1000 and $50 000 plus. A robot such as a joint arm robot is suitable for many industries including painting, welding and automatic assembly. It allows a business like a plastic injection moulding business to improve production efficiency by programming it to complete fully automated work. Admittedly, the very first robotic arm was created in 1959 by George Devol. Since then, many innovations to his very useful creation and design have been made. The technology used in todays robotic arms is truly remarkable and allows them to be extremely precise in timing and movements.
The material used in plastic injection moulding has also revolutionised. The journey from an extremely simple plastic like Bakelite to some of todays plastics which are extremely sophisticated is simply incredible. A very important plastic that is currently being developed is a plastic compound that will be sensitive to light. This genius idea is hoped to act as a potential treatment for certain retina diseases. At the moment there is Polythiophenes. This becomes conductive when electrons are added or through doping processes. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Alan J. Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid, and Hideki Shirakawa in 2000 “for the discovery and development of conductive polymers”. This was certainly a huge breakthrough for medical uses of plastic injection moulding components.
So, there you have it. A quick snapshot into the amazingly sophisticated innovations of plastic injection moulding over some 110 years. If you have an idea or are thinking about creating your very own plastic injection moulded components, reach out to Royston, Bob, and their team at B&C Plastics. Give them a call on 07 3208 0555 or email Royston at Royston@bcplastics.com.au. Your product will come first and will be in safe hands with B&C.