Injection molding is a low-cost manufacturing process that allows for the quick and efficient production of uniform parts. It begins with a highly pressurized nozzle filling a mold with molten material, which hardens over time as it cools. Then, the injection-molded component is carefully ejected from the mold.
Automation has become more prevalent in high-volume manufacturing because automated machines can perform many processes without human intervention. Integrating automation into operations improves task efficiency, speed, and precision. Some tools — such as collaborative robots (cobots) and robotic arms — can even assist workers in their tasks, whereas others can complete tasks independently. Meanwhile, intelligent automation ensures worker safety during high-volume, high-stress production.
Benefits of Automation in Injection Molding
High-volume injection molding is a simple and fast manufacturing technique suitable for production runs of uniform, complex parts. However, when combined with automation, manufacturers can maximize the following benefits:
Automated systems can handle tasks that previously necessitated multiple people, enabling manufacturers to facilitate more transactions with fewer people. As a result, less direct labor and related expenses lead to lower overall project costs.
Quicker Production Times
Automated systems can complete processes without disruption. As long as they are properly maintained, they will operate 24/7, resulting in higher per-unit output and faster order fulfillment.
Improved Accuracy, Consistency, and Overall Product Quality
Typically, automated systems can perform manufacturing operations with less variability than the human workforce, improving product control and consistency.
Reduced Material Waste
A properly configured and programmed system produces parts with high precision and can generate early warnings if the process deviates from the limits. This reduces rework and scrap materials.
Applications of Injection Molding Automation
Automated injection molding is beneficial in several industries and uses. Possible applications for automated processes include the following:
Loading and Unloading
Automated systems can create an optimal working environment by operating efficiently in constrained areas. They can load and unload machinery without the risk of human errors.
Vision Inspection and Quality Control
Automated machines can ensure quality control by directing the parts and using sensors to identify errors. Meanwhile, humans can monitor the processes via this automation.
Assembly, Sorting, and Stacking
After the molding stage, automated systems can finish complex tasks, including welding, constructing assemblies, sorting parts for kits and packages, and more. These features reduce the possibility of error and expedite the order completion process.
Standardized methods for machine tending include heating the injected material, pressurizing the molten material to fill a cavity, and dislodging the cooled part without damaging it.
Automated tools can precisely and safely add inserts in the injection molding process, increasing the strength of the molded part.
Overmolding techniques are used to join two parts. Automated systems can quickly move injection molded parts between machines to perform these tasks efficiently.
Handling Post-Processing Tasks
These tasks entail trimming excess material from a part, uniformly dispensing sealant or finishes, and conducting post-process quality control. Packaging and completion can also benefit from automated equipment, such as sealing parts for shipment or transferring them into containers.
Automated tools can clean up after an injection mold task by removing leftover solid material from various parts of the molder. This expedites the cleaning process and facilitates recycling.
Choose Port Erie Plastics for Exceptional Plastic Injection Molding
Port Erie Plastics has long been a provider of high-quality plastic processing solutions in OEM manufacturing. We can mold any thermoplastic material for projects of any size or complexity. We also provide a comprehensive tooling transfer program, new tooling in-house, and a full warranty for our customers.
At Port Erie Plastics, we have a QA department that adheres to ISO 9000 standards to ensure the quality of our products. Our solutions range from custom injection molding and mold-making to other plastic processing services.