Injection molding (British variant spelling: moulding) is a manufacturing technique for making parts from both thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic materials in production. Molten plastic is injected at high pressure into a mold, which is the inverse of the product's shape. After a product is designed, usually by an industrial designer or an engineer, molds are made by a moldmaker (or toolmaker) from metal, usually either steel or aluminium, and precision-machined to form the features of the desired part. Injection molding is widely used for manufacturing a variety of parts, from the smallest component to entire body panels of cars. Injection molding is the most common method of production, with some commonly made items including bottle caps and outdoor furniture. Injection molding typically is capable of an IT Grade of about 9–14.
Standard Tooling Plates
The most commonly used thermoplastic materials are polystyrene (low cost, lacking the strength and longevity of other materials), ABS or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (a ter-polymer or mixture of compounds used for everything from Lego parts to electronics housings), polyamide (chemically resistant, heat resistant, tough and flexible – used for combs), polypropylene (tough and flexible – used for containers), polyethylene, and polyvinyl chloride or PVC (more common in extrusions as used for pipes, window frames, or as the insulation on wiring where it is rendered flexible by the inclusion of a high proportion of plasticiser).
Injection molding can also be used to manufacture parts from aluminium or brass. The melting points of these metals are much higher than those of plastics; this makes for substantially shorter mold lifetimes despite the use of specialized steels. Nonetheless, the costs compare quite favorably to sand casting, particularly for smaller parts.