A UK-based company that develops processing technologies for advanced materials says it has made a breakthrough in adapting its products for use with injection moulding.
Surface Generation, based in Rutland, Leicestershire, says its ‘Production to Functional Specifications’ (PtFS) process, which uses a range of active thermal management technologies to control temperatures to exact requirements of each mould area and process stage, could considerably improve the quality and efficiency of injection moulding manufacturing.
The process has already been widely adopted by aerospace and automotive manufacturers to assure quality and maximise the throughput of compression moulding processes.
Following four years of research and development, Surface Generation says it is now possible to use PtFS to heat and cool injection moulds in real-time. This allows manufacturers to precisely control how long materials remain molten in the mould and dynamically control material flow to fill thinner complex moulds accurately using up to 75 percent less pressure.
Trials with major consumer electronics and automotive manufacturers, says Surface Generation, have confirmed PtFS “significantly improves” the ability to create thin fibre-reinforced plastic components. In some cases, weight and raw material consumption has been cut by half and the need to paint parts eliminated due to a higher quality finish.
By reducing the pressure required to form components, PtFS also makes it possible to use smaller and more energy efficient injection moulding equipment, says the company. Combined with multi-zone heating and cooling, this allows a large range of electronics and dissimilar materials to be encapsulated within the moulding as they are no longer damaged during the forming process.
“With heating and cooling integrated into the mould, PtFS provides manufacturers with unprecedented control and flexibility for injection moulding,” explained Ben Halford, Chief Executive at Surface Generation.
“Rather than having to inject at high pressure and speed to ensure a mould is filled before solidification, users can instead introduce molten material slowly, guiding flow through complex sections, and then avoid shrinkage issues through precise localised cooling.
“Armed with a more precise process, manufacturers using PtFS for injection moulding have reduced the amount of raw material they require to form components dramatically and achieved a better surface finish in the bargain. This technical breakthrough means that next generation consumer electronics, automotive, lighting, sporting, medical, household and packaging products can be significantly lighter and easier to produce, without compromising strength or quality.”