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Optimizing your injection molding process

I have found that the injection molding process monitoring systems are often taken off of machines and packed into boxes to collect dust.

This even after they have been successful in optimizing a process and served to create 100% bad part containment. It is obvious that many who find success with this technology fail to understand that it is only a "tool" that requires continued training to live beyond one problem mold or project. I know of other molders who literally have e-Darts on every machine in their plant and claim to save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in gained efficiency.

It is interesting (and sometimes frustrating) to see injection molding companies purchase half-a-million dollar machines, but refuse to invest less than twenty thousand dollars to optimize the process that is paying for the machine and justifying its existence. I truly believe that this scientific approach to injection molding is the only right way to mold. Yet I am surprised at how many molders reject the technology. My intent in starting this conversation is to get a better idea of why some companies fail and others succeed in utilizing this technology.

My company has been using in mold cavity pressure transducers for a number of years and believes like any process controls they are an aid to the whole process. I presume everyone knows how they are to be used (i.e the right position within the cavity)? Sorry to mention this but speaking with other companies they were not using them correctly. We use these as our "goalkeeper" for use of better terminology to help against our main issues of short or flashed moldings. However good these systems are we have had issues, especially early on, where the process aids were bypassed by our technicians because they felt they knew better and took shortcuts. There are so many parameters in the injection molding process that can affect the quality of the finished product and it starts with the raw material preparation all the way through to the packaging used to protect the product appropriately. Personally I believe pressure transducers are a good tool for a relatively cost effective outlay, but I also believe that everything else has to be right in the process to support this equipment.

There are many plants which invested heavily into great systems and yet they are underutilized. There are too many factors involved as to why this is to go into at this time but I believe the root cause starts from the top management. If the plant manager has a good technological understanding of injection molding and hires people who understand and believe in scientific molding principles, process monitoring and control methods, and proper training then the systems themselves become a necessary and invaluable part of the operation.

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