Have you ever seen the movie The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman? Well, whether you have or haven’t, we’re going to tell you about our favorite part. There’s one specific scene in the beginning of the movie where Hoffman’s character, Ben receives some advice from another character, Mr. McGuire. Within this dialogue, McGuire says to Ben, “I just want to say one word to you, one word.” and Ben replies, “Yes, sir.” Now, what was that infamous one word that he needed Ben to hear? “Plastics.”
“One Word: Plastics,” has become an iconic movie quote not because it was a brilliant piece of script writing, but because it ended up foretelling the future of the plastics industry. Of course, we doubt Mr. McGuire had any idea how far the plastic injection molding industry would go, but he was definitely onto something. Injection molding is the most widely known manufacturing process that was originally patented back in 1872. Now, back then all they were using injection molding systems for was to produce hair combs; today, injection molding is used to make virtually anything.
Injection Molding is the Most Economical Choice
Although one custom mold may have a high price tag, that single mold can turn out thousands of identical products. Plastic is an inexpensive product to use, and it’s durable. Despite the heat application that is required to heat the plastic down to liquid form in order to press it into the mold, the overall process is an extremely economical choice (especially for producing bottle caps).
How the Injection Molding Process Works
The injection molding machine is made up of three primary units:
- Feed Hopper
- Heater Barrel
When the plastic is first inserted into the hopper, it’s in a granular powder-like form. After it’s in the proper compartment, it’s then heated down into a liquid form and the ram is used to force the heated plastic into the mold where it sits until it sets. Once the plastic is cooled, the molding is removed and you have yourself one product that you can make hundreds of identical duplicates of.
Injection allows us to manufacture complex shapes that are nearly impossible to create on such a large platform by any other means. With such a wide range of materials, it’s incredibly easy to create thousands of products that have exact matching physical properties. It’s a low cost process that has a minimal impact on the environment because whatever scraps are leftover are just melted back down and repurposed for another mold.