Injection moulding can do almost anything. This technol […]
Injection moulding can do almost anything. This technology, created in the 1940s and constantly refined, allows for incredible flexibility in product design and has effectively revolutionised mass production.
Injection moulding is the process of forcing molten materials into a mould or die. The material is then cooled, the finished result taking on the physical characteristics of the mould's cavity or hollow. This process is used for almost every plastic product that you will encounter on an everyday basis.Everything from the cap of your soft drink bottle to the dashboard of your car has been created through the injection moulding process. Even the plastic components that make up the computer that you're using right now have been injection moulded.
There are a variety of materials that are compatible with injection moulding - from plastics to metals; almost anything that can be made malleable. The machine types vary in size, shape and running costs, allowing for a huge range of customisation. As with most items manufactured in mass quantities, plastic or metal products can be made in the same mould time and time again, meaning the cost of creating the mould is spread over the total number of items created. This allows items like coat hangers, toys and DVD cases to be produced for little more than the cost of the materials, whereas limited-run products, such as vinyl toys or custom-created art pieces will cost a lot more per unit.
You will find injection moulded products everywhere. The next time you buy a children's meal from a fast food restaurant, you will likely find a toy comes with it. The cost of producing that toy will be very small as hundreds of thousands of the exact same toy have been created using the same plastic moulding shape (not to mention the cheaper materials). It may seem incongruous, but artists and designers take advantage of the same technology, using the process to create custom moulds. These one-off products will cost a lot more than the per-unit price of creating, say, one hundred from the same mould.
There are limitations to injection moulding. The nature of the process demands that only one whole, solid piece be created at one time. Designers and manufacturers get around this problem by altering their product design to these limitations. For instance, a toy plastic car will have two moulds for each half of the outside shell and perhaps another mould that will detail the inside, such as seats, dashboard and steering wheel. Injection moulding is so ingrained in our society that the limitations of it are not even considered limitations. If something cannot be created using this moulding, there are very little options available, save carving the object by hand (a laborious task if you're to create thousands of items exactly the same).
Injection moulding is versatile and a very necessary part of modern society. Able to create almost anything - functional or aesthetically pleasing - it broadens the horizons of tradesmen, artists, designers and everyday people. In short, injection moulding can create almost anything.
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