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Benefits of Hot Runner Manifolds in Injection Molding

The benefits of hot runner Manifolds is significant when calculating material consumption and injection molding cycle time, however, many injection molds that are designed and built with hot runner Manifolds DO NOT consider all of the variables that the Part/Product may be changed during the R&D process. I've always favored building a conventional injection mold with cold drops as a vehicle to prove out a Part/Design before committing to a hot runner mold. This allows the typical tweaking of Gate Locations and Sizes to be modified in accordance with best molding parameters and overall part stability/performance/cosmetics prior to going to a hot runner mold----which will not have the options to revise gate location(s), etc. A change of material/resin during R&D may also have a dramatic effect on a hot runner manifold design, which, in most cases can be accommodated in a cold drop injection mold.

A well-built P20 injection mold can easily support most startup requirements and be an overall cost savings before starting a hot runner mold build. Color changes in hot runner molds can be problematic. Having been involved with many Clear Lens programs I can attest to requiring dedicated injection molds that are ONLY for clear resin use. I would caution anyone that requires color changes using hot runner manifolds to consider dedicated injection molds for each color, but this is a matter of $$$$$. Depending on how critical a slight color drift (or some faint streaking) would be in your part inspection, you may have the latitude for color changes in the same manifold, however, going from a color to a clear resin is a big problem.

I know that there are those readers who praise the use of purging materials to clean manifolds between color changes, to this I respectfully challenge and propose a teardown inspection of the manifold after purging which will show the residue of the prior resin in the channels and corners of the manifold. I've even had to dedicated injection molds/manifolds on clear plastic parts when switching from PC to Acrylic Resins due to the delta in molding temperatures and how the residue in the hot runner would be problematic in the clarity of the part after switching from A to B. There are many manufacturers of hot runner manifolds and a broad variation in costs. I would suggest that whoever you select as your hot runner supplier, you consider how the supplier can support your molding location with spare parts and Technical Assistance, I have had bad experiences with being shut down for days because of Valve Gate component delivery from afar. As mentioned in this blog, both Husky and MoldMasters are very competent and globally positioned for support of their products.

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